Updated Aug 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Garland says he “personally approved” search warrant at Trump’s residence

U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland attends a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice August 2, 2022
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the Department of Justice is filing a motion to unseal parts of the search warrant for former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.

Driving the news: Garland also said that he "personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter."

  • "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," Garland said.

The big picture: The FBI on Monday searched Trump's Florida residence in what is likely related to documents Trump took from the White House that may have been classified, two sources familiar with the matter told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • When a search warrant is requested for a major figure, such as a former president, "it goes through a long review process," Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor, previously told Axios.

Details: "Both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president's counsel, who was on site during the search," Garland said.

  • The Justice Department has moved to unseal the search warrant signed and approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Aug. 5, "including Attachments A and B" and "the redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search, filed with the Court on August 11, 2022."
  • "In these circumstances involving a search of the residence of a former President, the government hereby requests that the Court unseal the Notice of Filing and its attachment (Docket Entry 17), absent objection by former President Trump," the filing states.

State of play: Garland also addressed "unfounded attacks on the Justice Department agents and prosecutors" in the aftermath of the search.

  • "I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated patriotic public servants every day."
  • "Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights."
  • "They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them," he said.

Trump said in a Truth Social post Thursday after Garland's press conference that Mar-a-Lago was raided "out of nowhere and with no warning" by "very large numbers of agents." He claimed he and his representatives had been cooperating fully.

  • " The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it," he said.
  • "They got way ahead of themselves," he added.

Between the lines: Hours before Garland's remarks, an armed person tried to break into the FBI building in Cincinnati, leading to a lockdown in the nearby area.

What he's saying: "Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor," Garland said.

  • "Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations."

Go deeper: Presidential Records Act and Trump search explained

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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