Donald Trump personally appealed to Attorney General Merrick Garland before the FBI warrant behind the raid at Mar-a-Lago was opened, a new report says.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that he had authorized the search at Mar-a-Lago, and he suggested the Department of Justice (DOJ) would not have done so without first trying less intrusive actions.
Shortly before Garland’s statement, a person in the former president’s inner circle contacted a DOJ official to relay a message from Trump to Garland, New York Times reported.
The former president wanted the attorney general to be aware that people around the United States were outraged by the raid.
“The country is on fire,” Trump is quoted as saying, according to the person with knowledge of the message The times. “What can I do to reduce the heat?”
A judge quashed the search warrant the next day, including an inventory of the items collected by the FBI on Monday.
Trump claimed that no wrongdoing had taken place, and he also baselessly suggested that agents had planted evidence in his residence.
When Joe Biden became president, he stopped Trump from receiving the classified briefings that former presidents receive, citing his “erratic behavior.”
Trump’s handling of classified information was also a concern among officials during his tenure.
On Thursday, Garland said he “personally approved the decision to apply for a search warrant in this case”.
“The department filed the motion to release the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the circumstances surrounding it, and the significant public interest in this case,” he added.
Legal analyst Tali Farhadian Weinstein said on MSNBC Friday that Trump “misjudged Attorney General Garland and how steely he is, and I think he kind of demonstrated the casualness of national security that’s at the heart of everything that’s going on here.”
She added that it “tells you something about the state of [Mr Trump’s] mind and the people around him that they did not understand the kind of uncertainty this creates for him [our] country if these documents are lying around”.
“I think it was absolutely right for Merrick Garland to step up and explain how things work,” she added regarding Mr Garland’s statement earlier this week.
– Faithful compliance with the rule of law is the basic principle of the Department of Justice and our democracy, said Garland on Thursday. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favour. Under my watch, that is exactly what the Ministry of Justice is doing.”
“All Americans have the right to the equal application of the law, to due process of law and to the presumption of innocence,” he added.
He also spoke out against the threats that police officers have faced since the raid.
“Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand idly by when their integrity is unfairly attacked, he said. “The men and women of the FBI and the Department of Justice are dedicated, patriotic public servants.”
“Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their security, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves,” he added. “I am honored to work together with them.”