The search warrant and the itemized receipt for the items confiscated from the former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property earlier this week are being worked on by the Department of Justice. Attorney General Merrick Garland made his first public remarks on Thursday following the FBI search.
It is incredibly uncommon for the Justice Department to speak about an ongoing investigation, particularly one involving a person of such notoriety. Garland declined to answer any questions from the press.
Republicans have criticized the search as a “witch hunt” for days, and they’ve pressed for clarification on why a warrant was required to get records that Trump did not turn over to the National Archives when he left office in January 2021.
The judge who granted the warrant has received threats from far-right agitators and bloggers, and internet forums have seen an uptick in calls for violence. It is not yet known whether the attempt to break into the FBI field office in Cincinnati on Thursday by a guy wearing body armor resulted in gunfire exchanges with law enforcement authorities.
The Department of Justice has been contacted by the National Archives to determine whether any criminal charges should be filed after it revealed in February that it had recovered 15 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago, including some that had been destroyed and others marked as classified or top secret. Such records are public property and must be given over to the National Archives and Records Administration after a president leaves office, per the Presidential Records Act of 1978. The statute offers a lot of latitude in deciding which records are private and which are official presidential records.
According to a report published by The New York Times on Thursday morning, Trump was served with a subpoena this spring for secret records that federal investigators thought he had neglected to give over earlier in the year. According to numerous news sources, Trump’s attorneys met with Justice department representatives in June to talk about what private documents the former president still had on hand.
It’s unclear exactly what records the FBI sought through the legally valid search request and got. Although they have not made it public, Trump’s attorneys have a copy of the warrant and a list of the items that were taken.
This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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