VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — According to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, when a president leaves office, his papers are supposed to go to the National Archives and later be part of a presidential library.
Monday night's surprise search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort by the Justice Department may have included a search for classified materials.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D, VA-02), who is a member of the House Select Committee on the January 6th attack, said the missing documents are concerning.
"I think it fits into a pattern of a truly blatant disregard for the law, for our institutions," she said. "This is something that is very serious. It doesn't happen very regularly and certainly has never happened for a former President."
Trump supporters focused not on the missing documents, but on the validity of the search itself.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R- North Carolina) in a statement, said: "The American people's faith in the Department of Justice has been eroding due to the perception that political considerations can override the fair application of the law."
Jen Kiggans, who is Luria's Republican challenger in the upcoming November midterm election tweeted: "Weaponizing the FBI should anger and frighten every American."
Political analysts say this is a significant and disturbing historical moment.
"We have very, very real concerns right now about how politicians in a major political party are treating issues related to the rule of law," said Leslie Caughell, associate professor of political science at Virginia Wesleyan University.
"Politically, where does this lead in terms of social structure?" asked Old Dominion University associate professor of political science Jesse Richman. "I fear that this will further enflame the divisions and polarizations in our society."