Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the Justice Department had filed a motion to unseal a search warrant and property receipt from the FBI’s recent search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Garland announced the motion at a press conference, marking his first public statement about the matter since Trump publicly confirmed the search at his Florida residence on Monday evening.
Although he declined to answer questions or provide any further details about the search, Garland said that he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” adding, “The department does not take such a decision lightly.”
Garland said that the search warrant “was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause," and that 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.”
According to multiple reports, the raid was related to an investigation into Trump's potential mishandling of classified documents. In May, a federal grand jury began investigating whether he had mishandled top-secret documents, including taking 15 boxes of material to the Florida resort.
Monday’s raid was first reported by Florida Politics — which said the FBI had executed a search warrant and left the premises — minutes before Trump posted his statement about it to his social media site, Truth Social.
“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in his statement. Without evidence, he decried the search as “prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by the Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for President in 2024."
Garland said Thursday that the search warrant “was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause."
Nevertheless, Trump’s outrage quickly reverberated across the right, as Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators jumped to the former president’s defense, echoing his claims of persecution and calling for the FBI to be dismantled.
It didn’t take long for some of the rhetoric around the Mar-a-Lago raid to turn violent. Within hours of Trump’s statement announcing the raid, social media users from Twitter to more fringe platforms like Gab and Telegram were issuing calls for civil war and vowing to take up arms.
At Thursday’s press conference, Garland sought to address what he called “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,” Garland 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.
“I am honored to work alongside them,” he added.