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Trump: Immediate Release of Warrant    08/12 06:12

   Former President Donald Trump called late Thursday for the "immediate" 
release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate, hours 
after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the warrant, with 
Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the "substantial public interest in 
this matter."

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former President Donald Trump called late Thursday for 
the "immediate" release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his 
Florida estate, hours after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal 
the warrant, with Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the "substantial 
public interest in this matter."

   In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, "Not only will 
I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by 
ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents." He continued to assail 
the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as "unAmerican, unwarranted and unnecessary."

   "Release the documents now!" he wrote.

   The Justice Department request earlier Thursday is striking because such 
documents traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the 
department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created 
a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and that the public 
was entitled to the FBI's side about what prompted Monday's action at the 
former president's home.

   "The public's clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred 
under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing," said a motion 
filed in federal court in Florida on Thursday.

   Should the warrant be released -- the request is now with the judge -- it 
could disclose unflattering information about the former president and about 
FBI scrutiny of his handling of sensitive government documents right as he 
prepares for another run for the White House. During his successful 2016 
campaign, he pointed frequently to an FBI investigation into his Democratic 
opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information.

   It's unclear at this point how much information would be included in the 
documents, if made public, or if they would encompass an FBI affidavit that 
would presumably lay out a detailed factual basis for the search. The 
department specifically requested the unsealing of the warrant as well as a 
property receipt listing the items that were seized, along with two unspecified 
attachments.

   To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that 
probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed. Garland said he 
personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take 
lightly given that standard practice where possible is to select less intrusive 
tactics than a search of one's home.

   In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was 
substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search 
warrant, including a subpoena for records and a visit to Mar-a-Lago a couple of 
months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents 
were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and 
spoke on condition of anonymity.

   Neither Trump nor the FBI has said anything about what documents the FBI 
might have recovered, or what precisely agents were looking for. But the former 
president complained anew Thursday about the search.

   Trump, who for years has lambasted the FBI and sought to sow distrust among 
his supporters in its decisions, said the warrant was served and the search 
conducted despite his cooperation with the Justice Department over the search.

   In a post to his Truth Social platform, Trump said that his "attorneys and 
representatives were cooperating fully" prior to the search, and that 
government officials "could have had whatever they wanted, whenever they 
wanted, if we had it."

   The Justice Department has until Friday afternoon to alert the judge about 
whether Trump will object to the release.

   FBI and Justice Department policy cautions against discussing ongoing 
investigations, both to protect the integrity of probes and to avoid unfairly 
maligning someone who is being scrutinized but winds up ultimately not being 
charged. That's especially true in the case of search warrants, where 
supporting court papers are routinely kept secret as the investigation proceeds.

   In this case, though, Garland cited the fact that Trump himself had provided 
the first public confirmation of the FBI search, "as is his right." The Justice 
Department, in its new filing, also said that disclosing information about it 
now would not harm the court's functions.

   Even so, Garland, in a hastily scheduled public statement delivered from the 
Justice Department podium, appeared to acknowledge the unusual nature of the 
department's request as he declined to take questions or provide any 
substantive details about the FBI's investigation.

   "Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do 
that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the 
integrity of our investigations," he said. "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."

   The Justice Department under Garland has been leery of public statements 
about politically charged investigations, or of confirming to what extent it 
might be investigating Trump as part of a broader probe into the Jan. 6 riot at 
the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

   The department has tried to avoid being seen as injecting itself into 
presidential politics, as happened in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey 
made an unusual public statement announcing that the FBI would not be 
recommending criminal charges against Clinton regarding her handling of email 
-- and when he spoke up again just over a week before the election to notify 
Congress that the probe was being effectively reopened because of the discovery 
of new emails.

   The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice 
Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records 
recovered from Trump's home in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this year. The 
National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes 
of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records. Multiple 
federal laws govern the handling of classified information.

   The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice 
Department personnel over the search. Some Republican allies of Trump have 
called for the FBI to be defunded. Large numbers of Trump supporters have 
called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was 
unfairly targeted.

   "I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," 
Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them "dedicated, 
patriotic public servants."

   Earlier Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor tried to breach a security 
screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio, then fled and was later killed 
after a standoff with law enforcement. A law enforcement official briefed on 
the matter identified the man as Ricky Shiffer and said he is believed to have 
been in Washington in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol and may 
have been there on the day it took place.

 
 
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