Merrick Garland denounces 'unfounded attacks' on FBI, DOJ after Mar-a-Lago raid

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. | AFP via Getty Images/Andrew Harnik

Attorney General Merrick Garland says the raid on the Mar-a-Lago residence of former President Donald Trump followed proper protocol, responding to claims the search for classified documents was prosecutorial misconduct.

In remarks Thursday afternoon, Garland announced the filing of a court request to unseal the search warrant and property receipt in the U.S. Southern District of Florida. He said the raid he approved followed had federal court approval on the basis of probable cause.

"Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former President’s counsel, who was on site during the search," he said in his first remarks since the Monday raid. "The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause." 

The attorney general denounced what he described as "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 added. "The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants."

Garland said most of the work "is by necessity conducted out of the public eye" and done to "protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations."

Calling it a "weaponization of the Justice System," Trump alleges that the DOJ committed prosecutorial misconduct. He contends the raid was unnecessary because his "attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully" with authorities.

"The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it," Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. "Everything was fine … and then, out of nowhere and with no warning, Mar-a-Lago was raided."

In another post on Truth Social Thursday, Trump said he would not oppose the Justice Department's quest to unseal the warrants relating to the raid and said he encourages "the immediate release of those documents."

The raid outraged Trump supporters and many Republican elected officials. 

Garland's comments come after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted that Republicans would launch an investigation into what he says is the "weaponized politicization" of the Justice Department if they take control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections.  

Sources close to the situation told The Washington Post that there was reason to believe that the former president failed to turn over sensitive classified documents from his time in office.

The National Archives and Records Administration said in February that it had retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago the month before that was said to have been improperly taken from the White House. Questions were reportedly raised about if Trump was holding onto more documents amid requests by The National Archives to receive documents covered under the Presidential Records Act. 

The legislation mandates the preservation of written communications related to a president's official duties.

According to a report by The Washington Post, people tied to the raid have said that the classified documents they were looking for included content relating to nuclear weapons. But it is unclear if such content was among documents discovered by investigators. 

On Friday, Trump responded to The Washington Post report. 

"Nuclear weapons issue is a Hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia was a Hoax, two Impeachments were a Hoax, the Mueller investigation was a Hoax, and much more," Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social. "Why wouldn’t the FBI allow the inspection of areas at Mar-a-Lago with our lawyer’s, or others, present. Made them wait outside in the heat, wouldn’t let them get even close - said 'ABSOLUTELY NOT.' Planting information anyone? Reminds me of a Christofer Steele Dossier!"

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