U.S. Justice Dept. seeks to unseal warrant following search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home

The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorized an FBI search of Donald Trump's Florida home, after the former president attacked the search as an act of political retribution.

Attorney General Merrick Garland personally approved search warrant for raid of former president's home

A man wearing a glasses and suit and tie stands at a microphone.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday about the motion to unseal a search warrant for a raid at former president Donald Trump's Florida home earlier this week. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorized an FBI search of Donald Trump's Florida home, after the former president attacked the search as an act of political retribution.

Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed on Thursday that federal agents had searched Donald Trump's Florida estate amid a probe that sources have said is focused on whether the former president illegally removed records from the White House as he was leaving office.

Garland, the nation's top law enforcement official, said he had personally approved the decision to order the search.

His confirmation was highly unusual. U.S. law enforcement typically does not discuss ongoing investigations. But it came after Trump himself announced the search on Monday night, alleging that it was an act of political retribution by Democratic President Joe Biden.

Late Thursday, Trump said on social media he agreed the warrant should be made public.

In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote: "Not only will I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents." He continued to assail the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as "unAmerican, unwarranted and unnecessary."

Garland said the Justice Department had asked a court to publish a sealed search warrant "in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter."

Trump supporters rallied in support of him after the FBI operation on Monday. Some legal experts worry about the anger that could be unleashed if Trump were ever to be indicted. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

It was not clear whether Trump's legal team would object to the release of the warrant, which could shed light on the nature of the investigation.

In a statement on his Truth Social network, Trump said: "My attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully, and very good relationships had been established. The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it."

The unprecedented search marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state probes Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business.

WATCH | FBI search warrant sought documents related to nuclear weapons, says media report: 

FBI search of Trump home related to nuclear weapons documents: U.S. media reports

4 months ago
U.S. media is reporting federal agents may have been looking for documents related to nuclear weapons when they searched Donald Trump’s home.

FBI agents visited Trump's property earlier this year to investigate boxes in a locked storage room, according to a person familiar with the visit. The agents and a Trump lawyer, Evan Corcoran, spent a day reviewing materials, the source said.

A second source who had been briefed on the matter told Reuters that the Justice Department also has surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago in its possession.

Man dead after attempt to breach FBI office

An armed man who tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati office was shot and killed by police after he fled the scene, leading to an hour-long standoff Thursday afternoon, the Ohio Highway State Patrol said.

The man, who has not been identified, was shot after he raised a gun toward police at around 3 p.m. ET, said Lt. Nathan Dennis, a patrol spokesperson.

Federal officials said the man "attempted to breach" the visitor's screening area at the FBI office and fled when agents confronted him. After fleeing onto Interstate 71, he was spotted by a trooper and fired shots as the trooper pursued him, said Dennis.

The suspect left the interstate north of Cincinnati and abandoned his car, exchanging gunfire with police. 

Vehicles parked on a road.
The area near Center and Smith roads was closed for hours during a standoff Thursday in Clinton County, Ohio, after an armed man tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati office and fled north on the highway. (Nick Graham/Dayton Daily News via The Associated Press)

Authorities threatened after Mar-a-Lago raid

Attacks on the FBI's integrity erode respect for the rule of law, its director said on Thursday. 

"Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others," Christopher Wray said in a statement.

There have been growing threats in recent days against FBI agents and offices across the country since federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites, users have warned they are preparing for an armed revolution.

Garland condemned the attacks on employees of the FBI and Justice Department. "I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," he said.

Federal officials have also been tracking an array of other concerning chatter on Gab and other platforms threatening violence against federal agents. 

The FBI on Wednesday also warned its agents to avoid protesters and ensure their security key cards are "not visible outside FBI space," citing an increase in social media threats to bureau personnel and facilities. It also warned agents to be aware of their surroundings and potential protesters.

The warning did not specifically mention this week's search of Mar-a-Lago but attributed the online threats to "recent media reporting on FBI investigative activity."

With files from The Associated Press


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