Thursday, August 11, 2022

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

This afternoon, US Attorney General Merrick Garland stepped up to a podium at the Justice Department and completely ruined Donald Trump's week. Marcy Wheeler explains:
Merrick Garland just announced that the government has moved to unseal limited parts of the search warrant used to search Mar-a-Lago, pending giving Trump an opportunity to object.

Garland cited the public interest, but also Trump’s disclosure of the search himself.

Although the government initially asked, and this Court agreed, to file the warrant and Attachments A and B under seal, releasing those documents at this time would not “impair court functions,” including the government’s ability to execute the warrant, given that the warrant has already been executed. See Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246. Furthermore, on the day that the search was executed, former President Trump issued a public statement that provided the first public confirmation that the search had occurred. Subsequently, the former President’s representatives have given additional statements to the press concerning the search, including public characterizations of the materials sought.

But he’s not asking to unseal the whole warrant.

On the contrary. He’s only unsealing precisely the documents that Trump already has in his possession: the cover page and Appendices A (describing this house) and B (describing what can be seized). Indeed, the motion notes that the FBI gave Trump these documents.

In these circumstances involving a search of the residence of a former President, the government hereby requests that the Court unseal the Notice of Filing and its attachment (Docket Entry 17), absent objection by former President Trump. The attachment to that Notice consists of:
  • The search warrant signed and approved by the Court on August 5, 2022, including Attachments A and B; and
  • The redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search, filed with the Court on August 11, 2022.
The government will respond to the direction of the Court to provide further briefing as to additional entries on the docket, pursuant to the schedule set by the Court.

Consistent with standard practice in this Court, the search warrant and attachments were each filed under seal in Case No. 22-mj-8332-BER prior to the search; the Property Receipt was filed under seal today. Former President Trump, through counsel, was provided copies of each of these documents on August 8, 2022, as part of the execution of the search.

These documents are precisely the ones that Trump could have released all by himself, but chose not to. He could object now. But if he did, it would make clear — as if all the refusals to release it to journalists hasn’t already — that it’s really damning.

And now — in a short announcement where he took no questions, but where Garland made a fierce defense of DOJ and the FBI — Garland is calling Trump’s bluff.
And we know now this morning from the NY Times that Trump indeed did get a subpoena for these classified documents he was keeping in Mar-a-Lago back in June, and Trump ignored it.

Former President Donald J. Trump received a subpoena this spring in search of documents that federal investigators believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year, when he returned boxes of material he had improperly taken with him upon moving out of the White House, three people familiar with the matter said.

The existence of the subpoena helps to flesh out the sequence of events that led to the search of Mr. Trump’s Florida home on Monday by F.B.I. agents seeking classified material they believed might still be there, even after efforts by the National Archives and the Justice Department to ensure that it had been returned.

The subpoena suggests that the Justice Department tried methods short of a search warrant to account for the material before taking the politically explosive step of sending F.B.I. agents unannounced to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and members-only club.

Two people briefed on the classified documents that investigators believe remained at Mar-a-Lago indicated that they were so sensitive in nature, and related to national security, that the Justice Department had to act.

The subpoena was first disclosed by John Solomon, a conservative journalist who has also been designated by Mr. Trump as one of his representatives to the National Archives.

The existence of the subpoena is being used by allies of Mr. Trump to make a case that the former president and his team were cooperating with the Justice Department in identifying and returning the documents in question and that the search was unjustified.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Christina Bobb, a lawyer working for Mr. Trump, did not respond to messages. It is not clear what precise materials the subpoena sought or what documents the former president might have provided in response.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday confirmed that he personally signed off on a search warrant that was executed on Monday. He did not address a subpoena, but said that “where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means,” indicating that other measures were tried before a search took place.

The subpoena factored into a visit that Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence official, made with a small group of other federal officials to Mar-a-Lago weeks later, in early June, one of the people said.
What Trump did not do was cooperate fully with the subpoena. The feds believed Trump still had classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, documents of such sensitive nature that the feds showed up on Monday to get them personally.

Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Experts in classified information said the unusual search underscores deep concern among government officials about the types of information they thought could be located at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and potentially in danger of falling into the wrong hands.

The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

Again, if the documents were harmless, we absolutely would have seen Trump release the warrant and appendices that he got and scream WITCH HUNT at the top of his lungs over being UNFAIRLY PERSECUTED LIKE NO PRESIDENT IN HISTORY over classified White House cookie recipes.

But Trump didn't do that.  And now Garland is giving him the business: either this list gets out, or he has to object in court, proving he has something to hide.

My theory is again that he has to. Just the list of what was taken out of there would end him, and everyone knows it.

We'll see what Trump does.

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