The US justice department has moved to unseal the search warrant and the list of items retrieved by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday, attorney-general Merrick Garland said, breaking days of silence on the search of the former president’s home.
Garland on Thursday declined to offer details on the reasons for the search, but said the department wanted a judge to approve the public release of the documents “in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter”.
He added that “faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the justice department and of our democracy; upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favour”.
Garland said that he had personally approved the motion to seek a warrant for the search and the Department of Justice did not “take lightly” the decision to search the premises of a former president. The attorney-general defended the FBI and DoJ following a backlash from Republican lawmakers and conservatives across the country in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search.
“The men and women of the FBI and the justice department are dedicated, patriotic public servants every day,” he said. “They protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honoured to work alongside them.”
Garland’s statement marked his first public comments since federal investigators executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in connection with an investigation into the former president’s handling of classified records from his time at the White House.
The attorney-general confirmed that Trump’s lawyer, who was present at the time of the search, was provided with a copy of the warrant and the list of items retrieved. Trump has not released those documents so far.