The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has unleashed a familiar euphoria among critics who have longed for–agents descending upon the President's residence in a criminal operation. One MSNBC pundit declared that day of the "orange jumpsuit" may finally be at hand while another simply exclaimed "hallelujah." It was a tad premature since we do not even know if classified material was found and, if so, whether there is a criminal case to be made from such a discovery.
I previously testified in Congress on the earlier seizure of the boxes at Mar-a-Lago under the Presidential Records Act and how criminal prosecutions have been rare under the law. Nevertheless, criminal charges are possible, including under Section 2071 which states that anyone can be prosecuted who "willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates or destroys … any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited … in any public office." That crime, however, requires a showing of not just negligence but that "an act is … done voluntarily and intentionally and with the specific intent to do something the law forbids."