Congressional Republicans call Garland’s remarks on Mar-a-Lago search insufficient
Written by Tal Axelrod ABC News on August 12, 2022
(WASHINGTON) — Congressional Republicans were quick to pan Merrick Garland’s Thursday remarks on the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago — calling the attorney general’s comments insufficient and insisting the Justice Department release more information behind the unprecedented raid even as Garland said he wants the search warrant unsealed.
But GOP lawmakers said the Justice Department’s motion to unseal parts of the warrant would not cut it, demanding that more information behind the search’s genesis was needed given the gravity of the operation at a former president’s home.
Sources previously told ABC News it was in connection to documents that Trump took with him when he departed Washington, including some records the National Archives said were marked classified.
“The primary reason the Attorney General and FBI are being pushed to disclose why the search was necessary is because of the deep mistrust of the FBI and DOJ when it comes to all things Trump,” tweeted South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally.
“What I am looking for is the predicate for the search. Was the information provided to the judge sufficient and necessary to authorize a raid on the former president’s home within ninety days of the midterm election?” Graham wrote. “I am urging, actually insisting, the DOJ and the FBI lay their cards on the table as to why this course of action was necessary. Until that is done the suspicion will continue to mount.”
Other Republicans directly criticized Garland, who said at a brief press conference that he signed off on the search warrant for Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
“Merrick Garland personally approved a search warrant to take down Joe Biden’s top political opponent. This is a politically-motivated witch hunt,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
“The FBI and DOJ became politicized under Obama and this has continued under Biden. The FBI has become an attack dog to help the Democrats achieve their own political ambitions and silence dissenters,” added Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene went even further.
“We must defund the FBI, dismantle the DOJ, and gut the agencies of political biases and persecutions,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, perhaps the most visible anti-Trump Republican, wrote on Twitter: “I have been ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents involved with the recent Mar-a-Lago search. These are sickening comments that put the lives of patriotic public servants at risk.”
The reaction comes after days of GOP demands for Garland to release the warrant and explain the rationale behind the search.
Garland on Thursday said authorities acted by the book — and he indicated that carrying out his duties required seeking the warrant.
“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 favor,” he said. “Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” he said. A court filing from the Justice Department shows it was signed by a judge on Friday.
Included in the government’s new motion to unseal parts of the warrant is a request to also unseal a redacted inventory of what was taken by agents at Mar-a-Lago.
Prosecutors wrote that Trump “should have an opportunity to respond to this Motion and lodge objections, including with regards to any ‘legitimate privacy interests’ or the potential for other ‘injury’ if these materials are made public.”
The judge in the case later ordered the government to consult with Trump’s attorneys and report back by Friday afternoon as to whether the former president would issue any objections.
People close to Trump have been discussing the possibility of challenging the motion to unseal the warrant, according to sources familiar with his thinking.
Lawyers who are said to be representing him in this matter are not responding to requests for comment.
Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for the warrant’s release, suggesting the Justice Department’s motion shows there was no wrongdoing in the search.
“A reminder: Trump could have released this paper at any time. He refused,” New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler tweeted. “And now DOJ wants you to see it. AG Garland seems to have nothing to hide.”
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.
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