Justice Dept. asks court to unseal Mar-a-Lago search warrant

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Justice Department asked a court to unseal the warrant which authorized the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump says he doesn’t oppose the release of the documents.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the request at a news conference Thursday, citing “substantial public interest in this matter.”

As documents traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation, the move is seen as a departure from the DOJ’s typical practice.

“This matter plainly ‘concerns public officials or public concerns,’” a Justice Department court filing said. “The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing.”

The court filing also cited Trump’s own public comments about the search as a reason for why it should be made public.

Trump’s lawyer, Christina Bobb, told NewsNation early Thursday evening it “doesn’t appear” her team will block the release of the warrant, but did not commit.

“It doesn’t appear at this time like we would object, but the court has ordered the Department of Justice to coordinate with us and to work on how that release would take place and what that would look like. Our team has responded,”  Bobb said. “We have reached out to the Department of Justice to coordinate that and have not been able to make contact.”

Later Thursday night, however, Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, that not only will he not oppose the release of the warrant, he encourages it.

“Release the documents now!” he posted.

Trump’s lawyers have until 3 p.m. Friday eastern time to let the DOJ know if they object. It’s not immediately clear when — or if — such a request might be granted by the judge or when the documents could be released.

The judge’s order allowing the Trump legal team to object to the release of the warrant effectively puts them in a “tough position” after they criticized the DOJ, says Jamil Jaffer, who worked in the DOJ during the George Bush administration.

“Now the shoe is on the other foot,” Jaffer said Thursday on “NewsNation Prime.” “If they say, ‘We don’t want it made public,’ they’re sort of giving up the ghost in that maybe there was some material there that was problematic for the president.”

Garland said he personally signed off on the decision to apply for and execute the search warrant, which was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified documents that sources say the former president may have taken with him when he left the White House in 2021.

A judge signed off on the FBI’s search warrant last week, but agents did not execute the warrant until Monday when Trump was in New York City. At least 12 boxes were reportedly recovered in the search.

Trump called the search of Mar-a-Lago a “surprise attack,” claiming he and his legal team had been in contact and cooperating with the Justice Department and the FBI since June, explaining there should have been no reason for a targeted “raid.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called Monday’s Mar-a-Lago search “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.”

As Republicans rallied behind Trump, Democrats pushed back against GOP claims of political interference, without evidence.

The attorney general condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he said, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”

The Hill and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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