Attorney General Merrick Garland said he personally approved a search of Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week and the Justice Department asked a federal court to release the warrant in his first public remarks since that federal agents had raided the former president’s home.
“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court after the required finding of probable cause,” Garland said Thursday, without answering questions from reporters.
Garland said he personally approved of the decision to seek a search warrant, adding that the department “does not take such a decision lightly.”
The White House, Democratic leaders and the Justice Department have remained largely silent on the search, after Trump himself revealed the FBI entered his Mar-a-Lago estate while he was in New York.
Refusing to comment is not unusual for the Justice Department, which typically chooses not to comment on ongoing investigations. The agency is investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but the search was believed to be part of an investigation into the handling of presidential documents.
But pressure has mounted in recent days for the agency to speak out, as some Democrats feared Trump and his GOP allies were controlling the narrative.
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In a statement on Monday, Trump called the search “dark times for our nation” and blamed Democrats for using the court system to prevent him from running in 2024, despite the Justice Department not being not a political entity.
Garland noted that the department filed the motion to make the warrant public “in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in the matter,” adding that the agency applies the law “without fear”. or favor.
Since Trump announced the search, protesters have gathered near the president’s estate in Florida, while inspiring talk of the war in some far-right circles. And Thursday, a gunman approached an FBI office in Ohio and exchanged gunfire with law enforcement as the agency reported increasing threats against its agents and offices in recent days.
Garland addressed what he called “unfounded attacks” on the professionalism of FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors.
“I will not remain silent when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he said. “Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their security while protecting our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.