Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced Thursday that the Justice Department was wanting to unseal several documents surrounding Monday’s search of Mar-a-Lago,former President Donald Trump’s residence in Florida.
Garland, in his first public comments in the four days of political turbulence since federal agents searched Trumps residence, said he approved the search personally and that the Justice Department will not take this type of decision lightly.
The attorney general noted that the search occurred only following a federal judge signed off on a probable cause justification, and he said the DOJ would seek to create public the warrant and receipt for the house the FBI seized.
Faithful adherence to the rule of law may be the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying regulations evenly, without fear or favor, Garland said. Under my watch, that’s just what the Justice Department does.
Garland said he’d not touch upon the case beyond his statement, but he pushed back against rhetoric from some Republicans that the DOJ had acted out of political animus contrary to the former president.
I’ll not the stand by position silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The women and men of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants, Garland said.
Additionally on Thursday, local news reported a man tried to break right into an FBI field office in Cincinnati.
Garland’s statement followeda four-day firestorm from Republicans who accused the Justice Department of political bias contrary to the former president. Some went so far as to compare the FBI to Nazis and threaten to defund the agency.
Trump himself sparked that reaction in an extended statement concerning the search, calling it political persecution and comparing it to operations in UNDER-DEVELOPED Countries.
What’s the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke in to the Democrat National Committee? Here, backwards, Democrats broke in to the home of the 45th President of america, Trumps statement said.
Legal experts said Trump could have been given a copy of the warrant in addition to a receipt for the things the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago, an undeniable fact confirmed by Garland on Thursday.
The publics clear and powerful fascination with understanding what occurred under these situations weighs heavily and only unsealing, the motion said.
The DOJ motion also noted that Trump must have a chance to object to unsealing the documents. The magistrate judge in the event, Bruce E. Reinhart, ordered the Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys to confer and enter an additional statement by Friday afternoon about whether Trump would oppose unsealing the warrant.
Andrew Weissmann, a Justice Department veteran and former FBI general counsel, said the attorney general had called Trumps bluff.
Brilliant move by Garland: make motion to unseal everything including material Trump has recently (warrant and return); so now the ball is in his court to object or consent!” Weissmann tweeted.
That has been echoed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. If Donald Trump has nothing to cover he’ll tell the Court he supports DOJ unsealing the search warrant, Swalwell tweeted.
Earlier in the week Republican leaders in Congress demanded answers following search. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Justice Department should curently have provided answers to the American people and should do so immediately.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., calling for Garland to clear your calendar before congressional oversight. And Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the likely Judiciary Committee chairman in a Republican Congress, needed Garland, alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray, to testify before Congress by Friday.
Wray was appointed by Trump to a 10-year term at the top of the FBI in 2017.