Merrick Garland Weighed Search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago for Weeks

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  gregtx  •  one month ago  •  21 comments

By:   Sadie Gurman and Aruna Viswanatha (WSJ)

Merrick Garland Weighed Search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago for Weeks
Attorney General Merrick Garland deliberated for weeks over whether to approve the application for a warrant to search former President Donald Trump's Florida home, people familiar with the matter said.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



WASHINGTON—Attorney General Merrick Garland deliberated for weeks over whether to approve the application for a warrant to search former President Donald Trump's Florida home, people familiar with the matter said, a sign of his cautious approach that will be tested over the coming months.


The decision had been the subject of weeks of meetings between senior Justice Department and FBI officials, the people said. The warrant allowed agents last Monday to seize classified information and other presidential material from Mar-a-Lago....

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Merrick Garland deliberated for weeks over whether to approve the application for a warrant to search former President Donald Trump's Florida home, people familiar with the matter said, a sign of his cautious approach that will be tested over the coming months.

The decision had been the subject of weeks of meetings between senior Justice Department and FBI officials, the people said. The warrant allowed agents last Monday to seize classified information and other presidential material from Mar-a-Lago.

Mr. Garland now faces a more momentous decision that will further sharpen an already unprecedented and politically fraught situation: whether to pursue charges against Mr. Trump or any of his allies over their handling of the records at issue and their interactions with Justice Department officials seeking to retrieve them.

A decision to bring charges in the matter against Mr. Trump or any of his allies would thrust the Justice Department deeper into a political environment in which the former president's supporters and Republican lawmakers are already accusing Mr. Garland and the department of overreach.

FBI agents who searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked as top secret, according to a search warrant released by a Florida court Friday. Photo illustration: Adele Morgan The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

The department Monday asked a judge not to make public the affidavit on which the search warrant was based, as some news-media outlets had sought, writing in a court filing that the document contains "critically important investigative facts" about witnesses and tactics.

"If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government's ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps," the department wrote in its filing. A judge will ultimately decide but is unlikely to unseal the document given the government's opposition.

Federal agencies also have warned about the prospect of violence against law-enforcement officials in retaliation. A western Pennsylvania man was charged Monday with threatening to "slaughter" Federal Bureau of Investigation agents after the Mar-a-Lago search, with investigators writing in a federal criminal complaint that he wrote social-media posts, including one that said everyone "from the director down to the janitor who cleans their…toilets deserves to die."

Workers recently erected metal barricades around the FBI's Hoover Building headquarters, a target of some of the threats.

New security fencing went up around the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington after threats were made against the agency following the search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent letters Monday to Mr. Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking documents and communications related to the search. While the department is unlikely to agree to that request while the investigation is ongoing, such scrutiny would likely only intensify if Republicans gain control of Congress in November.

Justice Department officials have defended the Mar-a-Lago search as a necessary step approved by Mr. Garland himself. People familiar with the Justice Department's approach have said a primary goal of the search was to ensure the security of highly sensitive national-security documents after the Trump team didn't relinquish them and amid concerns that the security of the material at Mar-a-Lago had been put at risk.

The decision whether to pursue criminal charges promises to be a defining one for Mr. Garland, a former federal judge who, as a Justice Department staffer in the late 1970s, helped codify changes intended to restore trust in the institution and address presidential abuses of power.

"He's both extremely careful and he understands the critical role of an attorney general in these circumstances," said former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who was Mr. Garland's boss when they served under President Bill Clinton. "He appreciates the context in which this is occurring. I don't think he considers politics at all, but I do think he recognizes the seriousness of actions against a former president."

Not considering politics doesn't mean the actions he takes won't have political consequences, and Mr. Garland has publicly expressed a kind of pride in saying he doesn't care about them.

"The only pressure I feel, and the only pressure that our line prosecutors feel, is to do the right thing," Mr. Garland said earlier this year.

After months of negotiations with Trump lawyers, the department decided to search Mar-a-Lago after receiving information from an FBI source as well as surveillance footage from the resort that appeared to show the additional materials weren't securely stored, according to people familiar with the matter.

"I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter," Mr. Garland said at an extraordinary press conference last week. "The department does not take such a decision lightly."

The warrant application was made on Friday, Aug. 5, according to a copy released by the court last week. Mr. Trump was out of town at the time of the search and not at the property, which was closed during the hot summer season. In a bid to be discreet, the agency sent in plainclothes agents without guns, people familiar with the matter said.

Nevertheless, the action sparked a furious political response after Mr. Trump said that night that agents had "raided" his home.

On Monday, he said in a social media post that the FBI had taken three of his passports from Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department contacted Mr. Trump's legal team to return one active and two expired passports, which were found in containers seized during the search, an official said late Monday night

The search also ensured the Justice Department will remain firmly in the arena of partisan politics after years in which Mr. Wray and, more recently, Mr. Garland sought to establish confidence in the agency's independence after years in which Mr. Trump pressured his attorneys general to prosecute political rivals and show leniency to associates.

Inside the Justice Department, Mr. Garland is known by colleagues as a contemplative, by-the-book leader who, after roughly a year-and-a-half at the helm of the agency, has slowly begun to shed the cautious and consensus-based approach he followed as a federal judge for the more decisive posture expected of a law-enforcement officer.

People close to him say he has started to delegate and make decisions faster, after his first few months in which he would review in detail even routine matters including requests for assistance from foreign law-enforcement agencies that were formally sent in his name, according to people familiar with the requests. Officials defended Mr. Garland's early approach as necessary given that other senior administration officials weren't in their posts yet.

Mr. Garland's emphasis on norms and policies is being tested against the docket of politically charged cases before him. In addition to the probe into Mr. Trump's handling of classified information, prosecutors are also examining efforts by his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss. He also inherited a long-running investigation into the business dealings of President Biden's son, Hunter, and a decision likely to generate criticism no matter whether he approves criminal charges or not.


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GregTx
Junior Participates
1  seeder  GregTx    one month ago

I thought this was about national security?

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  GregTx @1    one month ago

At least one facet of it is.

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
1.1.1  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    one month ago

What facet is that? Presidential records?

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
1.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  GregTx @1.1.1    one month ago

You asked about National security, I agreed.

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
1.1.3  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Split Personality @1.1.2    one month ago

Could you clarify please. What facet is in your opinion?

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2  seeder  GregTx    one month ago
The decision had been the subject of weeks of meetings between senior Justice Department and FBI officials, 

And yet the White House wasn't briefed??...

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1  Split Personality  replied to  GregTx @2    one month ago

Since when did the Executive Branch get involved in Justice?  April 30, 1789?

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.1.1  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Split Personality @2.1    one month ago

So you agree that it's not really plausible that the AG and other senior officials of the DoJ and FBI wouldn't have briefed the administration?

 
 
 
Gazoo
Sophomore Silent
2.1.2  Gazoo  replied to  Split Personality @2.1    one month ago

Don’t you remember the nsba, in conjunction with the doj and white house labeling parents at school board meetings domestic terrorists? Yeah, that was very recent.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Split Personality  replied to  Gazoo @2.1.2    one month ago

nsba? 

 
 
 
Gazoo
Sophomore Silent
2.1.4  Gazoo  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.3    one month ago

National school board association

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1.5  Split Personality  replied to  GregTx @2.1.1    one month ago

I don't see what it has to do with the article, neither Joe Biden or the White House is

mentioned.  I would expect that like his predecessor, Mr. Biden watches TV and is

aware of what is going on.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1.6  Split Personality  replied to  Gazoo @2.1.4    one month ago

Ahh, yes, I used to go to school board meetings but it got too dangerous.

Recently many people have just lost their sense of decorum

as well as their minds it seems.  

Even our Town Hall Meetings, once a pleasant couple of hours listening to the anger

and sheer madness that can develop over ordinances or trees overhanging one's

neighbors land began to get out of control.

Thank goodness for COVID.

Alas, meetings are now virtual, no longer as entertaining as Maury or Jerry.

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.1.7  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.5    one month ago

Of course you don't. Yes I'm sure Mr. Biden watches TV as well, as to how aware he is....

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.1.8  Texan1211  replied to  GregTx @2.1.7    one month ago

Staff probably tells him the next morning what he watched.

 
 
 
Gazoo
Sophomore Silent
2.1.9  Gazoo  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.6    one month ago

You went to school board meetings within the last year? No offense but i pictured you as older than having kids in elementary or high school.

 
 
 
Gazoo
Sophomore Silent
2.1.10  Gazoo  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.6    one month ago

“Since when did the Executive Branch get involved in Justice?  April 30, 1789?”

but anyway, getting back to the original point, you asked “since when did the executive branch get involved in justice”, justice, that’s ironic isn’t it? The answer is very recently

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1.11  Split Personality  replied to  Gazoo @2.1.9    one month ago
You went to school board meetings within the last year? 

Yes, in person and then virtually after the CRT fist fights during one of the live meetings.  we are a tiny burg, not likely to make even the local FOX news. But full of small minded Xtians with large imaginations. 

No offense but i pictured you as older than having kids in elementary or high school.

None taken but are you suggesting that Grand Parents don't attend School Board meetings.  It's the only way we see some of our neighbors, lol

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.2  Texan1211  replied to  GregTx @2    one month ago
And yet the White House wasn't briefed??.

Almost impossible to believe, isn't it?

Well, maybe not for those who think Biden walks on water.

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.2.1  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Texan1211 @2.2    one month ago

Almost? No, it is impossible to believe.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.2.2  Texan1211  replied to  GregTx @2.2.1    one month ago
No, it is impossible to believe.

Not for a select few!

 
 

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