Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that he had approved the search at Mar-a-Lago, and he implied that the Department of Justice (DOJ) wouldn’t have done so without attempting less intrusive actions first.
Just ahead of Mr Garland’s statement, an individual in the former president’s inner circle contacted a DOJ official to send a message from Mr Trump to Mr Garland, The New York Times reported.
The former president wanted the attorney general to be aware that people around the US were furious about the raid.
“The country is on fire,” Mr Trump is quoted as saying, according to the individual with knowledge of the message, according to The Times. “What can I do to reduce the heat?”
A judge unsealed the search warrant the next day, including an inventory of the items collected by the FBI on Monday.
Mr Trump claimed that no wrongdoing had taken place, and he also baselessly suggested that agents had planted evidence at his residence.
When Joe Biden became president, he stopped Mr Trump from receiving classified briefings that former presidents get, citing his “erratic behaviour”.
Mr Trump’s handling of classified information was also a concern among officials during his term in office.
On Thursday, Mr Garland said he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter”.
“The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter,” he added.
Legal analyst Tali Farhadian Weinstein said on MSNBC on Friday that Mr Trump “misjudged Attorney General Garland and how steely he is and I think he sort of demonstrated the casualness about national security that is at the heart of everything going on here”.
She added that it “tells you something about the state of [Mr Trump’s] mind and the people around him that they didn’t understand what kind of insecurity this creates for [our] country if these documents are lying around”.
“I think it was exactly right for Merrick Garland to step up and to explain just how things work,” she added concerning Mr Garland’s statement earlier this week.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy,” Mr Garland said on Thursday. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favour. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
“All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence,” he added.
He also spoke out against the threats that law enforcement agents have faced following the raid.
“Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he said. “The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants.”
“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,” he added. “I am honoured to work alongside them.”
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