Two months before the FBI executed its search at Donald Trump's Florida estate, the former president was served with a subpoena seeking sensitive government documents that investigators believed Trump had stored there after his White House term had ended, a personal familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The disclosure provides new context to the Justice Department's efforts to secure the government records, short of taking the unprecedented action earlier this week to search a former president's home.
The subpoena was related to a visit federal authorities made to the Mar-a-Lago property in June when the Secret Service assisted with the entry to the estate, said the person who is not authorized to comment publicly.
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the June effort and Trump's attorneys did not respond to inquiries after the existence of the subpoena was first reported by the conservative outlet Just The News.
Earlier Thursday, one of Trump's lawyers, Christina Bobb, retweeted a story from the Just The News website, bearing the headline: "Trump got grand jury subpoena in spring, voluntarily cooperated before home was raided."
The June action represents a months-long attempt to secure the documents, before Attorney General Merrick Garland disclosed Thursday that he personally approved the decision to seek a warrant to search Trump's home.
Garland said he greenlighted the action after determining there was the required "probable cause" that a crime had been committed.
"The (Justice) department does not take such a decision lightly," Garland said. "Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken."
The attorney general made no allegation against Trump during a brief statement, in which he also announced that Justice would seek to unseal the warrant, barring an objection from the former president.
Trump and his lawyers did not immediately say whether they planned to object.
In recent days, they have refused to release their copies of the search warrant and supplemental materials.
Trump, meanwhile, has continued to decry the search as a personal attack in which he has been targeted by federal authorities.
"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 Monday when he first disclosed the law enforcement action. "Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before."
The disclosure unleashed a wave of vitriol from the former president's supporters, some of them issuing verbal threats against the FBI and the attorney general.
On Thursday, Garland concluded his remarks with a defense of federal authorities.
"Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors," Garland said. "I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump served subpoena at Mar-a-Lago two months before FBI search