Three days after the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Attorney General Merrick Garland broke his silence on Thursday to discuss the investigation into the former president and to defend the Department of Justice.
Garland also revealed that he personally approved the decision to ask a court for a search warrant in the politically charged case, which appears to be centered on Trump’s removal of classified documents from the White House.
“The department does not take such a decision lightly,” Garland told reporters in a brief statement in Washington, DC. “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 announced that federal prosecutors had filed a motion in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida asking that the search warrant and a FBI property receipt, which lists the items taken, be unsealed.
Both of these documents were provided to Trump’s attorney, who was on site as the search took place, according to Garland.
The attorney general said the decision to ask a court to make the documents public was made in light of Trump revealing the FBI raid on Monday to the public, as well as what he said was the “substantial public interest in this matter.”
In their court filing, DOJ prosecutors wrote, “Given the intense public interest presented by a search of a residence of a former President, the government believes these factors favor unsealing the search warrant…and the Property Receipt, absent objection from the former President.”
Their motion also cited a Trump aide speaking to media to say the FBI agents were searching for “presidential records or any possibly classified material.”
“As such, the occurrence of the search and indications of the subject matter involved are already public,” the motion states.