On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland took questions concerning the recent Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raid on former President Donald Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Most notably, Garland gave the go-ahead on the raid and laid out multiple other details Americans have been demanding since Monday night.
“Good afternoon. Since I’ve become Attorney General, I have made clear that the Department of Justice will speak through its court filings and its work,” Garland began, adding that the department has asked for the warrant used in the raid to be unsealed.
“Just now, the Justice Department has filed a motion in the southern district of Florida to unseal a search warrant and property receipt relating to a court-approved search that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was a premises located in Florida belonging to the former president,”
“The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search. The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening as is his right,” he said concerning a statement released by Trump on Monday.
“Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president’s council who was on-site during the search. The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause.”
“The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner. The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter,” he continued.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of the law is the bedrock principle of the justice department and of our democracy,” Garland argued.
“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law equally without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the justice department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the even-handed application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.”
“Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye,” Garland said in response to calls for transparency. “We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations. federal law, long-standing department rules, and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time. There are however certain points I want you to know.”
“First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” he stated. “Second, the department does not take the decision likely. 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.”
Lastly, Garland responded to attacks on the FBI’s credibility and professionalism during the raid, including former President Trump’s assertion that agents could have “planted” evidence at Mar-A-Lago while searching for classified documents.
“Third, let me address 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. 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.”
While Garland gave some details about the raid and took personal responsibility for its initiation, he was unwilling to provide more details: “This is all I can say right now; more information will be made available in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. Thank you.”
The DOJ’s unsealing of the warrant used in the raid may provide some more insight into the reasoning and probable cause behind the search of Trump’s estate. However, Garland’s comments will likely not satisfy Americans still looking for answers about the FBI’s motivations.
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