Politics

Merrick Garland Says He ‘Personally Approved’ Seeking Mar-A-Lago Search Warrant

US attorney general Merrick Garland announced on Thursday that he had “personally approved” the decision for the FBI to seek a search warrant to raid former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday.

The Department of Justice has moved to make the warrant public, he said, citing the clear public interest in the investigation.

Law enforcement authorities had been searching for any potentially sensitive classified government documents that had been improperly kept at Mar-a-Lago, according to reports that the Department of Justice appeared to confirm Thursday in a court filing.

The spectacle of executing a search warrant at the home of a former president led to speculation that the contents of the possible materials were highly sensitive. Garland declined to give any detail about what the FBI may have found at the Florida resort.

“Federal law, longstanding department rules and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time,” Garland said.

“There are, however, certain points that I want you to know,” he continued.

“First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter. Second, the department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”

A federal judge reviewed the evidence at hand and approved the search warrant, as is the usual procedure.

Yet some conservatives have painted the search as politically motivated, which has led to an uptick in threats against the FBI that director Christopher Wray called “deplorable”.

Garland also pushed back on those characterizations Thursday ― particularly what he termed the “recent unfounded attacks” on the FBI’s “dedicated, patriotic” members.

Garland did not specifically mention the threat against the FBI’s Cincinnati offices made on Thursday morning, and it is still unclear whether that incident is related to the backlash against the raid.

Rather, the attorney general hit back on allegations of misconduct. In the wake of the raid, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) specifically called out Garland in a public statement, saying Republicans would launch an investigation into the matter that would “leave no stone unturned”.

“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy,” Garland said on Thursday. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice moved to make the search warrant public due to clear public interest in the investigation.

Garland declined to take any questions from reporters.

Trump reacted to the news on his social media platform, Truth Social, by first attempting to redirect attention to his predecessor, president Barack Obama, in a line of attack that conservative pundits have recently glommed onto.

When Obama wanted to take records from his presidency in order to digitize them, he went through the National Archives, which has legal custody over the documents. Trump allegedly has been hiding documents from the National Archives.

Trump said in another Truth Social post that his attorneys and representatives were “cooperating fully” with the investigation and claimed the raid was unnecessary.

“They asked us to put an additional lock on a certain area – DONE!” he added, referencing a request that came out of an early June meeting between federal officials and Trump’s lawyers. The officials asked Trump’s staff to go to extra lengths to keep the specified area secure, CNN reported.

The fact that the FBI and Department of Justice conducted the raid without notice has led legal observers to suggest there was good reason to act fast. The New York Times reported on Thursday that the documents were related to national security, citing two unnamed sources.

The fact that Trump took documents to Mar-a-Lago has been known for months; The National Archives acknowledged earlier this year that it retrieved boxes of documents from the Florida resort.

Trump reportedly had been served a subpoena for additional documentation authorities believed he failed to turn over, according to the Times, indicating that the Justice Department at first tried to recover the materials through less invasive channels before resorting to the raid.




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