DOJ moves to unseal warrant in Mar-a-Lago; Trump ‘encourages’ release

Prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to unseal a search warrant executed earlier this week at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, citing the public interest and the fact that the president publicly confirmed the search, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

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The request came after Trump said in a social media post on Monday that FBI agents had searched Mar-a-Lago unannounced and breached a safe. He decried the incident as politically motivated.

Update 2:04 a.m. EDT Aug. 12: In a social media post late Thursday, Trump said he would “not oppose the release of documents.”

“I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social media platform.

Original report: The search was part of a probe into whether Trump took classified records to Florida after leaving the White House, according to The Associated Press. Authorities have been investigating since at least January, when Trump turned over to the National Archives records, including confidential documents, that he had taken to Mar-a-Lago, the AP reported.

On Thursday, Garland said that he had personally approved of the decision to seek a warrant.

“Federal law, longstanding department rules and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time,” he said. He added that, “the department does not take such a decision lightly. 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.”

Attorneys for Trump will have until Friday afternoon to respond to the government’s request to unseal the search warrant.

Months before Monday’s search, the 45th president was served a subpoena aiming to recover documents that authorities believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year, according to The New York Times.

Officials served Trump with the subpoena in spring, the Times reported, citing unidentified sources. Authorities believed Trump failed to turn over documents that were so sensitive that it required the Justice Department to step in, according to the newspaper.

Officials with the National Archives and Records Administration said earlier this year that they arranged in January to get 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that contained presidential records that should have been turned over to officials at the end of Trump’s presidency in January 2021.