Former President Donald Trump said he will not oppose the Justice Department’s motion to unseal the search warrant approved by a federal judge for a search of his Florida home.
In a press conference on Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the government’s filing, saying “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.”
Federal Judge Bruce Reinhart, who is overseeing the case in the Southern District of Florida, ordered the government to confer with Trump and report back by 3 p.m. Friday on whether the former president opposed the motion to unseal.
Trump announced late Thursday that he will not oppose the motion nor a partially redacted property receipt list of all the items seized during the FBI search on Monday.
How did we get here? Here’s a timeline of events.
The National Archives had asked Trump for some of the materials it believed had been taken from the White House and stored at Mar-a-Lago in Florida after Trump left office.
Trump turned over 15 boxes of materials taken from the White House after negotiating with officials at the National Archives in 2021.
According to officials, the boxes included personal letters and gifts Trump had received, including a congratulatory letter from former President Barack Obama.
“These records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump administration in January 2021,” the National Archives said in a statement.
After going through the documents, the National Archives discovered what appeared to be classified information. They called on the Justice Department for guidance, according to the Times.
The agency confirmed on Feb. 18 that they found “classified national security information” among the boxes of the material turned over by Trump.
The finding raised concern among lawmakers, who started investigating through the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In a letter on Feb. 24, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, requested a detailed accounting from the National Archives of what was in the boxes.
In April, the Justice Department instructed the National Archives not to share any details about the classified materials found at Mar-a-Lago with the House Oversight Committee.
In early May, the Justice Department issued a subpoena to the National Archives to obtain the classified documents found within the boxes.
According to CNN, Trump aides including executive assistant Molly Michael, operations coordinator Beau Harrison, former White House staff secretary Derek Lyons, and former White House valet Walt Nauta, were interviewed by federal officials about the removal of documents to Mar-a-Lago or about their storage once brought to the resort.
June 3, 2022
DOJ and FBI officials present a grand jury subpoena at Mar-a-Lago and are shown a storage room where boxes containing White House documents and other materials are kept.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump attorneys hand over documents marked as “top secret.”
June 8, 2022
Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt reportedly sends a request that a stronger lock be put on the storage room door and that the boxes “be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice.”
He signs off in the letter with, “Thank you. Very truly yours, Jay Bratt, chief of counterintelligence and export control section.”
June 22, 2022
Trump receives a subpoena for surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, according to the Journal.
Aug. 5, 2022
Reinhart issues a sealed search warrant for the former president’s home.
Aug. 8, 2022
FBI agents executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, going through Trump’s home for more than nine hours. According to reports, the agents concentrated on a bedroom, a safe, and at one point the former first lady Melania Trump’s closet. The remaining boxes are removed from the storage room.
Aug. 11, 2022
Attorney General Merrick Garland holds a news conference to say that he personally approved the search of the former president’s residence.
“The department does not take such a decision lightly,” he said, adding, that “it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”
What was found in Monday’s search?
A report from the Washington Post Thursday said that “Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought” in Monday’s search.
According to the story, “The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation.
“Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search. A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.”
On Friday morning, Trump denied the claim on his Truth Social platform.
“Nuclear weapons is a hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia was a hoax,” referring to then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
The Times reported that while Garland provided no details, a person “briefed on the matter said investigators had been concerned about material from what the government calls “special access programs,” a designation that is typically reserved for extremely sensitive operations carried out by the United States abroad or for closely held technologies and capabilities.”
What happens next?
Late Thursday, Trump said he would not stand in the way of the release of the warrant and the list of what was taken.
“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago,” he said in a statement, “I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.” (N.B.: Trump possesses the documents and could release them himself.)
Reinhart set a 3 p.m. ET Friday deadline for either side to object to the release of the court documents.
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