(CNN) — Attorney General Merrick Garland made his first public statement Thursday after federal agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Florida home in Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department has filed a motion to disclose a search warrant and property receipt related to the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
The statement comes after days of silence from the Justice Department regarding the search, as is normal department practice for ongoing investigations.
“Just now, the Department of Justice has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to disclose a search warrant and property receipt related to a court-approved search the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was in a location located in Florida belonging to the former president,” Garland said.
The Department applies the law “without fear or favoritism”
Merrick Garland said that all Americans have a right to “impartial application of the law” and says much of the Justice Department’s work is done out of the public eye to protect the integrity of investigations.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the fundamental principle of the Department of Justice and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law uniformly, without fear or favoritism,” he said.
He said these are the principles under which Justice Department officials operate.
“Much of our work is done out of necessity out of the public eye. We do it to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our research,” he said, adding that ethical rules prevent him from providing more details about the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
Garland said he “personally approved” the decision to seek a warrant for the FBI to search former President Trump’s Florida home at Mar-a-Lago.
“The department does not make that decision lightly. Whenever possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to limit the scope of any search that is conducted,” Garland said.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. It came months after federal investigators served an earlier grand jury subpoena and seized sensitive national security documents from former President Donald Trump’s estate during a meeting in June, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
The investigation marks the first time in US history that a former president’s home has been searched as part of a criminal investigation.
CNN analyst explains what could be seen in open documents related to the search at Mar-a-Lago
CNN legal analyst Elie Honig described the announcement as a “remarkable and unusual move.”
As a result of this search warrant, Trump and his lawyers have two documents, Honig explained on CNN after Garland’s comments. “One is the search warrant itself with the attachments. And the other is this inventory or this receipt.”
These documents have important information about the search. Generally, the DOJ’s policy is to talk only about things that are on record with the court. But with this move, Garland hopes to put these documents in front of Americans, Honig said.
Typically, the warrant will list logistical information: the location to be searched, an overview of the items being searched, the name of the judge, a deadline for the department to run the search.
But sometimes it also has an attachment, which will typically list the laws that the department has probable cause to believe were violated.
The second document is the inventory or receipt.
“It’s a list. The FBI says, ‘here are the items that were removed from Mar-a-Lago.’ Once again, the degrees of specificity and generality tend to vary. I don’t expect to have a paper-by-paper breakdown if they were to take thousands of pages,” explains Honig. “I think what we’re going to see is lists like X number of boxes. If they took any electronic documents, if they took any laptops, cell phones, that kind of thing.”
However, Honig points out that we won’t see the affidavit, which is the most detailed document, which can be anywhere from 20 to 100 pages where prosecutors present details that give them probable cause to believe laws were violated.
That document will remain confidential and will typically be released when there is a charge, Honig explains.
“If someone is searched and then charged, they will be given a copy of that affidavit … so that person can challenge it in court,” he explained.