AG Merrick Garland confirmed that he personally signed off on the FBI's Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
"The department does not take such a decision lightly," he said at a news conference.
Garland also said the DOJ filed a motion to unseal the warrant after Trump publicly revealed its existence.
Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed Thursday that he personally signed off on the warrant used to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property.
The attorney general announced that the Justice Department filed a motion to unseal the search warrant and an accompanying FBI property receipt. He also said that copies of both the warrant and the receipt were given to Trump's counsel, debunking claims that the former president's team did not get copies of the documents.
"Federal law, long-standing department rules, and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time. There are, however, certain points I want you to know," Garland said.
"First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter," he continued. "Second, the department does not take such decisions lightly."
Garland said they chose to file to unseal the documents in light of Trump's "public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter."
Copies of both the warrant and the FBI's receipt were provided "to the former president's counsel who was on-site during the search," Garland said.
The department said in its motion to unseal that it "did not make any public statements about the search, and the search apparently attracted little or no public attention as it was taking place."
But "later that same day, former President Trump issued a public statement acknowledging the execution of the warrant," the court filing said. "In the days since, the search warrant and related materials have been the subject of significant interest and attention from news media organizations and other entities."
Given those circumstances, which involve a search of a former president's home, "the government hereby requests that the Court unseal" the warrant and FBI receipt, absent Trump's objections, the filing said.
Garland also said Thursday that the Justice Department tried using "less intrusive" methods to obtain the documents it eventually seized in the raid. The statement confirmed an earlier New York Times report saying that a grand jury subpoenaed Trump for the records in the spring.
Two people who were briefed on the documents, some of which were classified, told The Times that investigators believed some of the material was so sensitive and critical to national security that the Justice Department had no choice but to send FBI agents to retrieve them from Mar-a-Lago.
Following Monday's raid, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal reported that an informant tipped authorities off that classified government documents may have been improperly stored at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump's longtime former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, told CNN on Thursday that Trump likely feels "trapped" and fears that whoever tipped off the feds has more dirt on him.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
Read the original article on Business Insider