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Garland: 'I personally approved the decision' for FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago

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Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed Thursday that he personally approved the search warrant that led to an FBI raid at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida.

"I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter," Garland told reporters in his first public comments on the matter.

The attorney general also announced the Justice Department has filed a motion to unseal the warrant in the southern district of Florida. Garland would not comment on the ongoing investigation other than to say the warrant was authorized by a federal court upon finding of probable cause and that it will be made public in light of Trump's comments on the FBI raid and the public interest.

The FBI raid on Monday was reportedly conducted to retrieve classified materials and other documents Trump allegedly took with him to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.

Trump condemned the raid in a blistering statement Monday accusing the Biden administration of weaponizing the Justice Department against him. The former president later suggested that FBI agents were planting evidence against him.

Trump attorney Christina Bobb told NBC News Tuesday that agents seized about a dozen boxes from Trump's home and that a copy of the search warrant left at the Mar-a-Lago residence indicated agents were investigating possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and Trump's alleged mishandling of classified material.

The National Archives and Records Administration has said 15 boxes of presidential records, including classified materials, were previously retrieved from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. The Trump family say they have been cooperating with federal authorities to turn over presidential records for months.

Earlier this spring, Trump's office received a grand jury subpoena for classified documents believed to be remaining at Mar-a-Lago, Fox News reported Thursday. The FBI reportedly visited Trump on June 3 to retrieve the subpoenaed documents, and Trump complied with authorities.

While visiting Trump's residence, FBI investigators were reportedly showed areas where documents had been stored and requested that a lock be put on one storage room where records were located. Trump complied with the request.

Later, the former president claimed FBI agents broke the lock they had asked him to install to access the storage room where boxes of documents were kept.

"In early June, the DOJ and FBI asked my legal representatives to put an extra lock on the door leading to the place where boxes were stored in Mar-a-Lago - We Agreed," Trump wrote on Truth Social Wednesday.

"They were shown the secured area, and the boxes themselves. Then on Monday, with no notification or warning, an army of agents broke into Mar-a-Lago, went to the same storage area, and ripped open the lock that they had asked to be installed. A surprise attack, POLITICS, and all the while out Country is going to HELL!"

Republicans have condemned the raid and demanded additional details from Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray as well. Several GOP lawmakers have pressured the FBI and the National Archives to provide explanations and threatened oversight probes in the future.

"The country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. "Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do so immediately."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Garland to "preserve your documents," vowing that Republicans will launch a series of oversight investigations into DOJ should they reclaim the House majority after the November elections.

Wray declined to speak about the raid when asked Wednesday, telling reporters "that's not something I can talk about, and I'd refer you to the department." He also confirmed that law enforcement officials were monitoring violent threats made against FBI agents and top DOJ officials and condemned threats to law enforcement.

Media and watchdog groups have also sought information on the FBI warrant used to search Trump's home.

The Albany Times Union and Judicial Watch have separately asked a federal magistrate judge to release the FBI's search warrant to the public. Judge Bruce Reinhart gave the Justice Department an August 15 deadline to respond to the request, but the attorney general's announcement today means the warrant will be released shortly.

"More information will be made available in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time," Garland said.

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