The Justice Department moved Thursday to unseal the search warrant that lead to the unprecedented raid on Mar-a-Lago, absent any complaints from former President Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
The DOJ wants to reveal the property receipt that Trump received for records that were taken, along with a copy of the warrant itself. Garland said that the DOJ would also seek the release of two attachments to the warrant, though its not clear what those are.
It’s not clear whether an affidavit laying out to the magistrate judge the reasons for the search will be released. That document typically contains the most detailed and comprehensive version of the government’s case in a given investigation.
Garland’s statement was narrow and tailored to focus on the circumstances that led him to decide to push for the release of elements of the warrant. Trump, he remarked, had chosen on Monday to disclose the existence of the searches, and currently possesses a copy of the search warrant and of the receipt.
“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” the filing reads.
“The DOJ will speak through its court filings and its work,” Garland said.
He added that he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant.”
Shortly before Garland spoke at Main Justice, federal prosecutors filed a motion in federal court in south Florida asking the judge to unseal the documents. Per the filing, the DOJ asked the court to give Trump a chance to object before ruling on the motion.
The magistrate ordered the DOJ to confer with Trump immediately. He also set a deadline for the parties to say whether Trump would object by 3 pm EST on Friday.
Trump responded in a post on TRUTH Social:
The government’s motion to unseal the search warrant was signed by Juan Antonio Gonzalez, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jay I. Bratt, the chief of DOJ’s counterintelligence and export control section.
In the filing, prosecutors said that they notified Trump’s attorneys of the Monday raid.
“At the time the warrant was initially executed, the Department provided notice directly to former President Trump’s counsel,” the filing said.
Garland’s remarks and the motion to unseal comes after a week of moaning and gnashing of teeth from Trump and the GOP that it was time for the DOJ to explain itself for the searches. Trump has held copies of the warrant and inventory since the searches took place, but he has not released them. Meanwhile, Republicans attempted to build a narrative that would have compelled Garland to walk the path taken by former FBI Director Jim Comey, who revealed details of an investigation into Hillary Clinton without ever charging her.
“Federal law, longstanding department rules, and ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of this search at this time,” Garland said in his press conference.
Never before had a former president been subject to a search warrant and FBI raid. It’s a historic first for the DOJ and for the nation.
The circumstances are bizarre, with former President Trump failing to both acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 election, and to hand over materials that did not belong to him, but to the government over which he no longer presides.
No other president has previously been alleged to have so regularly disregarded federal document retention laws and policies or to have hauled classified materials out of the White House with them at the end of their term, or to have ripped up and flushed records down the federal commode.
On Monday, FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago pursuant to a warrant. Multiple media outlets – led by John Solomon, the right-wing journalist who Trump appointed a representative to NARA – have reported that a grand jury issued a subpoena to Trump months ago regarding classified records that he was holding at Mar-a-Lago.
The National Archives spent much of 2021 telling Trump that he had unlawfully taken White House records with him after leaving office and that he had to return them.As pressure from the agency mounted, Trump returned 15 boxes of materials to the archives in January. The agency told Congress in February that it had discovered classified material in the boxes, and that some of the records had been torn up.
A federal grand jury, the New York Times reported, was empaneled in April to investigate the matter.
The grand jury issued a subpoena before the DOJ’s top counterintelligence and export control official visited Mar-a-Lago in early June, along with three FBI agents. They took some records with them but, reports indicate, grew alarmed after learning that Trump was still holding governmental and classified records that did not belong to him.
Read the DOJ’s motion to unseal parts of the warrant here: