The Washington Post newspaper said the FBI was looking for “classified nuclear weapons documents” at Donald Trump’s Florida home when officers raided Mar-a-Lago on Monday, citing people familiar with the investigation.
The former US president called for the “immediate” release of the federal warrant used by the FBI to search his property, hours after the Justice Department asked a court to unseal the warrant, Attorney General Merrick Garland citing “substantial public interest in this matter.
In posts on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents…I go one step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of these documents. He went on to attack the FBI’s search for Mar-a-Lago as “un-American, unwarranted, and unnecessary”.
“Release the documents now!” he wrote.
The Justice Department’s request to unseal the search warrant documents is striking because they traditionally remain sealed during an ongoing investigation.
However, the department appeared to acknowledge that its silence since the raid had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks from Trump and his allies, and that the public was entitled to side with the FBI on what prompted Monday’s action in home of the former president.
“The clear and powerful public interest in understanding what transpired in these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” said a motion filed Thursday in federal court in Florida.
If the warrant was released – the request is now with the judge – he could release unflattering information about the former president and the FBI’s review of his handling of sensitive government documents as he prepares for another race for the White House.
During his successful campaign in 2016, he frequently pointed to an FBI investigation of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, into whether she mishandled classified information.
It’s unclear at this point how much information would be included in the documents, whether they were made public, or whether they would encompass an FBI affidavit that would presumably establish a detailed factual basis for the search.
The department specifically requested the unsealing of the warrant along with a property receipt listing the items seized, along with two unspecified attachments.
How would the FBI get a search warrant?
To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said he personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take lightly given that standard practice is, where possible, to select less intrusive tactics than a house search.
In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search warrant, including a subpoena and visit to Mar-a-Lago a few months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the case by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Neither Trump nor the FBI said anything about what documents the FBI might have recovered, or what specifically the agents were looking for. But the former president again complained Thursday about the search.
Trump, who for years lambasted the FBI and sought to sow suspicion among his supporters in his decisions, said the warrant was served and the search was carried out despite his cooperation with the Justice Department over the course of the search.
In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump said his “attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully” before the raid, and that government officials “could have had whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, if we had it.” planes”.
The Justice Department has until Friday afternoon to alert the judge to whether Trump will oppose the release.