The Justice Department on Thursday filed a motion to unseal the search warrant and property receipt used in the FBI raid at President Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
In brief remarks from the Justice Department, Mr. Garland said he personally approved the search warrant. He added that he didn’t make the decision lightly, suggesting that he would have taken a less intrusive step if it were available.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy,” Mr. Garland said. “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.”
Mr. Garland‘s remarks are his first public statements since the FBI searched Mr. Trump‘s home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday. Pressure has been growing, especially from Republicans, for Mr. Garland to address the search.
“It’s been 72 hours since the Justice Department took the unprecedented step of raiding a former president’s home. Reports this relates to a dispute over presidential records are either a thinly veiled excuse or an abuse of power, if true,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Thursday morning before Mr. Garland‘s remarks. “Given the Democrats’ history of weaponizing the Department of Justice, including the FBI, for political purposes, the American people deserve an honest explanation.”
More than 30 FBI agents swarmed Mr. Trump‘s residence Monday morning, rifling through his office and Melania Trump‘s closet. The former president has accused FBI agents of breaking a safe.
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FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday declined to publicly speak about the Trump raid, citing bureau policy against talking about ongoing investigations.
Mr. Garland defended the Justice Department employees who have been heavily criticized and threatened in the wake of the Trump search.
“The men and women of the FBI and Justice Department are dedicated patriotic public servants,” he said. “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.”
Since the raid at Mr. Trump‘s residence, FBI agents as well as Mr. Wray and Mr. Garland have reported an uptick in death threats. Authorities are monitoring social media posts and seeing threatening posts on far-right websites, including calls for Mr. Garland to be assassinated.
The search of Mr. Trump‘s residence is said to be linked to an investigation into whether he took classified documents and other materials from the White House to his home in Florida. Under federal law, presidents are required to send top secret materials to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The National Archives asked the Justice Department to probe the potential mishandling of classified information contained in 15 boxes sent to Mar-a-Lago.
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Earlier this year, the National Archives received those 15 boxes of White House records.