Justice Department Seeks to Unseal Trump raid Search Warrant, Attorney General Garland says

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Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to unseal a search warrant used by the FBI to raid the Florida home of former President Donald Trump three days earlier.

The decision came after days of pressure by Republican lawmakers and other allies of Trump on the Justice Department to explain why it authorized what is believed to be the first-ever search of a former president’s residence in connection with a criminal investigation.

 

The Trump warrant, which his lawyers already have, will include an affidavit detailing to the judge who signed the warrant the justification for the search of his home at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, and details about what crime or crimes federal law enforcement officials suspect were committed.

It also will include a list of items seized in the raid.

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The Justice Department is investigating Trump for the removal of documents from the White House, and possible violations of classified information laws because of the nature of some of those documents.

“The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Garland said at a surprise press conference.

Garland also said, “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,” the attorney general said.

Garland also condemned what he called “recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors” in connection with search and related investigation.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he said.

Trump and his allies have claimed the Justice Department and Garland, who was appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, searched the Mar-a-Lago club on Monday to hurt the former president politically.

Current and former senior Justice Department officials told NBC News that multiple people within the Justice Department believed Garland needed to explain the basis of the warrant.

FBI agent seized about a dozen boxes from Trump’s home, his lawyer said.

That lawyer said agents left a copy of the search warrant, which indicated they are investigating possible violations of laws related to the Presidential Records Act and the handling of classified material.

A senior White House official told NBC News that they were unaware of what Garland would say.

“We have had no notice that he was giving remarks and no briefing on the content of them,” the official said.

The Justice Department, and Garland, have a longstanding policy about not commenting on criminal investigations before charges are filed.

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