Merrick Garland: US Attorney General Asks Judge to Allow Him to Release Search Warrant of Trump’s House | International
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The attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, has broken his silence three days after the search of the mansion of former President Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach (Florida). Garland has appeared this Thursday in Washington to defend the most controversial action promoted by his department. He has hardly given any details, alleging that the law prevents him from doing so, but he has assured that he made the decision personally and that he will ask the judge to allow him to make the search warrant public because it is in the public interest. A proposal with which Donald Trump seems to agree: this Friday, in two messages published on the Truth social network, the former president requested the “immediate” publication of the order.
On the other hand, it has been known that the FBI carried out the search with judicial authorization after considering that Trump had failed to comply with a requirement to deliver classified, secret and compromising documents for the security of the United States, according to his version. That requirement was a much less explosive political action, but it was not successful. And also that the order was based on a tip from someone close enough to Trump to provide information about it.
“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court after the necessary finding of probable cause [indicios de delito]. The search warrant is a document that federal law requires law enforcement officers to leave with the property owner. The Department has filed a motion to release the order and receipt in light of the public confirmation from the former Registrar, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Garland said.
The lack of explanations has encouraged all kinds of criticism and even threats against the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for making such a drastic and unprecedented decision as the search of a residence of a former president of the United States. Trump has the order, but for now has not made it public.
Garland has avoided giving details for legal reasons, but has made a closed defense of his performance, “without fear and without favors”. “All Americans are entitled to the uniform application of the law, to due process of law and to the presumption of innocence,” he has said before making three specific comments about the registry.
“First, I personally approved the decision to apply for a search warrant in this matter. Second, the Department does not make that decision lightly. To the extent possible, it is common practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to limit the scope of any search that is carried out. Third, let me address the recent baseless attacks on the professionalism of FBI and Department of Justice agents and prosecutors. I will not remain silent when its integrity is unfairly attacked”, he has pointed out. Garland has not admitted questions after his statement.
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The request to the judge to make public the search warrant, a five-page document, has already been registered this Thursday before the South Florida court. It explains that the Justice Department brought the search warrant to the notice of Trump’s representatives, but “made no public statement about the search and the search apparently attracted little or no public attention while it was in progress.” “Later that same day, former President Trump issued a public statement acknowledging the execution of the order. In the days that followed, the search warrant and related material have been the subject of great interest and attention from the media and other entities,” he adds.
The Department of Justice requests that, if there is no opposition from Trump, not only the secrecy of the order be lifted, but also some annexes and the receipt with the list of seized documents, delivered to the court this Thursday.
In his brief, he argues that although he initially requested to keep the order and its annexes secret, now the court order has already been executed, Trump has made the search public and his representatives have made public declarations of the materials sought. “The clear and powerful interest of the public in understanding what happened in these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of lifting the secret,” concludes the letter, which leaves Trump the possibility of opposing. The ball is in his court. A refusal to make the documents public weakens the victimizing rhetoric of the former president and his supporters.
A close breath to Trump
In the last few hours, some other details related to the registry have also emerged. For example, that the federal agents took a dozen boxes with documents after their performance. Or that the action was based on reliable confidential information from a source close to Trump’s entourage that made it possible to identify what secret documents were in Mar-a-Lago and where to find them.
The law considers the reports, documents and even handwritten notes that the presidents handle in the exercise of their position to be public property and obliges them to hand them over to the National Archives upon dismissal. Trump initially breached that obligation. In May 2021, the National Archives staff approached the former president to inquire about documentation that he had not delivered.
In January 2022, faced with the threat of more drastic actions, Trump handed over 15 boxes of documents. Among them were letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the note left for him by his predecessor, Barack Obama, on his last day in the Oval Office. In addition, there were documents classified as secret, according to the National Archives Office. In February he learned that the Archives had asked the Justice Department to open an investigation.
Visit to Mar-a-Lago
It then emerged that federal agents had come to Mar-a-Lago last spring, met with Trump’s lawyers, and asked to see if and where the former president still has presidential documents. On that visit, four investigators met with two Trump attorneys. The former president himself was at his mansion at the time and greeted them. Agents verified that Trump still had presidential papers.
Trump himself acknowledged that visit: “In early June, the Department of Justice and the FBI asked my legal representatives to put an additional lock on the door that led to the place where the boxes were stored at Mar-a-Lago. They were shown the secured area, and the boxes themselves. Then on Monday, without notice or warning, an army of agents stormed into Mar-a-Lago, went to the same storage area and ripped out the lock they had asked to have installed. A surprise attack, POLITICAL, and all while our country is going to HELL! ”, He wrote this Wednesday on his social network.
U.S. criminal law punishes anyone who “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, erases, falsifies, or destroys” federal documents in their custody, with penalties ranging from a fine to three years in prison and disqualification from holding public office, although there are serious doubts that the latter applies to the requirements to be elected president. Another rule imposes penalties of one to five years for those who seize or destroy classified documents.
Trump also tries to encourage the thesis of double standards and political persecution by comparing his situation with that of his predecessor: “What happened to the 30 million pages of documents that Barack Hussein Obama took from the White House to Chicago? He refused to return them! What’s going on? (…) Will they break into Obama’s ‘mansion’ on Martha’s Vineyard? ”, He wrote this Thursday. However, there is no evidence that Obama took any confidential document and even less that he failed to comply with any requirement to return it. Obama took documents with the declared purpose of digitizing them and uploading them to the network, something that is not recorded that he finally did.
The search has raised political tension in the United States, which was already very high. On Wednesday of last week, before the FBI action, Biden met for two hours with historians and discussed the risks that affect American democracy, comparing the current situation even with that prior to the Civil War, as revealed The Washington Post.
The White House has so far avoided commenting on the record. The presidential spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, assured last Tuesday in her daily press conference that no one in the White House had been previously warned of what was going to happen and did not want to make a political assessment in this regard.
Here is the full transcript of the attorney general’s statement in English
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