Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department asked a federal judge Thursday to unseal a search warrant that was utilized by FBI agents to raid the Florida home of former President Donald Trump three days earlier.
That request got here after days of pressure by Republican lawmakers and other allies of Trump on the Justice Department to elucidate why it authorized what’s believed to be the first-ever search of a former president’s residence in reference to a criminal investigation.
The Trump warrant, which his lawyers have already got, will include an affidavit detailing to the judge who signed the warrant the justification for the search of his home on the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
It also will include details about what crime or crimes federal law enforcement officials suspect were committed and have a listing of things seized in Monday’s raid.
The Justice Department is investigating Trump for the removal of documents from the White House, and possible violations of classified information laws due to the nature of a few of those documents.
“The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the previous president’s public confirmation of the search, the encompassing circumstances, and the substantial public interest on this matter,” Garland said at a surprise press conference.
That motion was lodged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where Mar-a-Lago is situated.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally on the I-80 Speedway on May 01, 2022 in Greenwood, Nebraska.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Garland also said, “I personally approved the choice to hunt a search warrant on this matter.”
“The department doesn’t take such a choice frivolously,” he said. “Where possible, it’s standard practice to hunt less intrusive means as an alternative choice to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that’s undertaken.”
Garland also condemned what he called “recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors” in reference to the search and related investigation.
“I is not going to stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he said.
CNBC has asked for comment from Trump’s lawyer and his spokeswoman on Garland’s announcement, and asked if Trump will oppose the motion to unseal.
Trump and his allies have claimed the Justice Department and Garland, who was appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, searched Trump’s residence to harm the previous president politically.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks concerning the FBI’s search warrant served at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida during an announcement on the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, U.S., August 11, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
FBI agents seized a couple of dozen boxes from Mar-a-Lago, in accordance with Trump’s lawyer.
That lawyer said agents left a replica of the search warrant, which indicated they’re 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 before he took the rostrum on the Justice Department.
“We’ve got 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.