WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that he “personally approved the decision to request a search warrant” for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and the Justice Department’s motion earlier in the day submitted to make the order public.
Garland said at a news conference Thursday about his decision that the department “does not take such actions lightly” and is first pursuing “less intrusive” means of recovering material. Garland noted that it was Trump’s “right” to disclose Monday’s FBI search for his properties and that all Americans have a right to a presumption of innocence.
Garland also said the Justice Department has also asked for the title deed to be released detailing what agents found in Trump’s property.
Trump received a federal grand jury subpoena this spring for sensitive documents the administration believed it kept after he left the White House, a source familiar with the case confirmed to NBC News.
Garland’s nod to “less intrusive” avenues for document recovery appeared to be a reference to the subpoena, suggesting that Trump had not turned over all of the material sought by the Justice Department.
Conservative journalist John Solomon reported first Thursday afternoon Trump received the subpoena months before the FBI searched his home in Florida’s Mar-a-Lago on Monday. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the subpoena was related to documents Trump’s legal team discussed with Justice Department officials on a previously reported June 3.
Federal officials who went to Mar-a-Lago for the June meeting “came down to collect the documents requested” in the subpoena, the source familiar with the case said, adding that the meeting had been arranged. with Trump’s team. provided that handing over relevant documents that day would satisfy the subpoena.
Citing “two sources briefed on the classified documents” requested in the subpoena, The New York Times reported: On Thursday, federal officials were urged to search Mar-a-Lago because uncollected material was particularly sensitive to national security.
The source familiar with the case told NBC News that Trump’s attorneys last heard from the Justice Department for the FBI search shortly after the June meeting, when federal officials called for additional security at the document storage facility. kept. Trump’s team added a second lock to the basement storage area, the source said.
At his press conference, Garland also defended the Justice Department against “unfounded” attacks by Trump’s allies.
“I will not stand by when their integrity is unjustly attacked,” he said. “Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their security, while protecting our civil rights.”