Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks on FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago

By Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 7:08 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022
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6:52 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Trump team considering challenging DOJ's motion to unseal search warrant, source says

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Following the Justice Department's filing to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, former President Donald Trump’s team has contacted outside attorneys about how to proceed. 

Among the options they are considering is challenging the Justice Department's motion to unseal the warrant, a source familiar with the discussion says.  

Trump's orbit was caught off guard by Attorney General Merrick Garland's announcement. 

They have until 3 p.m. Friday to respond.

7:08 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

CNN and other news outlets ask court to unseal entire court record related to Mar-a-Lago search

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday, August 8, in Palm Beach, Florida.
Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday, August 8, in Palm Beach, Florida. (Terry Renna/AP)

CNN, joined by the Washington Post, NBC News and Scripps, asked a court on Thursday to unseal documents connected to the FBI search of former President Trump’s Florida residence this week – including documents not covered by the Justice Department’s own bid to unseal a selection of the warrant materials.

Specifically, CNN and the other outlets are asking for the US District Court in the Southern District of Florida to unseal the entire record filed with the court, including all probable cause affidavits filed in support of the search warrant.  

The request was filed after the Justice Department submitted its own request with the federal court to unseal certain warrant materials. In remarks announcing the request, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department is seeking the release of the “search warrant and property receipt” from the FBI’s search.  

But there are other documents that prosecutors file with federal courts when seeking search warrant, including affidavits from investigators laying out why they believe that there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that evidence of that crime existed in recent days at the site where the search was sought.

Garland said Thursday that he would not be “providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time.” The department also declined to comment on why it is not seeking to unseal the affidavits.

In the unsealing filing by CNN and the other outlets with the court, they pointed to “the historic importance of these events.”

Similar requests filed separately by the conservative group Judicial Watch, as well as the news outlets the Times Union and the New York Times, have prompted a magistrate judge to order that the Justice Department respond to the requests by 5 p.m. on Monday. That response can be filed secretly, the court said, but the department will also have to file a redacted version on the public docket. 

5:26 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Trump, legal team have not yet reached a decision on how to respond to unsealing motion

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Former President Trump and his legal team have not yet reached a decision on how to respond to the Justice Department's motion to unseal the warrant used in the Mar-a-Lago search, a source familiar with their thinking tells CNN. 

The motion notes that the government favors unsealing it "absent objection from the former president."

The federal court in Florida court must be told by 3 p.m. ET on Friday if Trump opposes the release.

5:30 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Trump says attorneys were "cooperating fully" prior to FBI search

From CNN's Gabby Orr

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday, August 10, in New York.
Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday, August 10, in New York. (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

In a pair of posts to Truth Social following Attorney General Merrick Garland's statement on Thursday, former President Donald Trump continued to claim that his attorneys were "cooperating fully" and had developed "very good relationships" with federal investigators prior to Monday's search at his Florida property Mar-a-Lago. 

"The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it," Trump said. "Everything was fine, better than most previous Presidents, and then, out of nowhere and with no warning, Mar-a-Lago was raided, at 6:30 in the morning, by VERY large numbers of agents, and even 'safecrackers.'" 

The former President did not respond to Garland's announcement that Justice Department officials had filed a motion to unseal the search warrant that granted FBI agents access to Mar-a-Lago on Monday and the receipt of items that were seized during the search. 

4:51 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Garland's comments come after days of silence by the DOJ

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Evan Perez, Hannah Rabinowitz and Zachary Cohen

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department on Thursday, August 11.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department on Thursday, August 11. (Susan Walsh/AP)

In his first public statement since federal agents searched former President Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday said that the Justice Department had filed in court a request that the search warrant and property receipt from the search be unsealed.

Garland also said he "personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter."

He noted that the department did not comment on the search on the day that it occurred. He pointed out that the search was confirmed by Trump that evening. He said that copies of the warrant and the warrant receipt were provided to the Trump lawyers who were on site during the search.

"The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter," Garland said.

The statement comes after days of silence from the Justice Department with regard to the search, as is the department's normal practice for ongoing investigations. Garland stressed that some of the department's work must happen outside of public view.

In filing with the court, the Justice Department said that Trump should have the chance to respond to its request to unseal the documents. Responses to the Justice Department's request are due by August 25, according to the case's docket.

4:20 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

DOJ asked to tell court by Friday if Trump opposes its unsealing request

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

The Justice Department has been instructed by a federal court in Florida to confer with former President Donald Trump about its request to unseal certain warrant documents from the FBI Mar-a-Lago search.

The court must be told by 3 p.m. ET on Friday if Trump opposes the release.

4:13 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Read the DOJ motion to unseal the search warrant and property receipt for Trump's Mar-a-Lago home

From CNN staff

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday said that the Justice Department had filed a request in court to unseal the search warrant and property receipt from the search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Read the motion:

3:54 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Justice Department files in court to unseal Mar-a-Lago search warrant

From CNN's Zachary Cohen

A police car is seen outside former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 8.
A police car is seen outside former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 8. (Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images)

The Justice Department has officially moved to unseal the search warrant executed by the FBI this week at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, according to newly filed court documents

“On August 8, 2022, the Department of Justice executed a search warrant, issued by this Court upon the requisite finding of probable cause… at the premises located at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Florida 33480, a property of former President Donald J. Trump,” the motion reads. 

“At the time the warrant was initially executed, the Department provided notice directly to former President Trump’s counsel. The Department did not make any public statements about the search, and the search apparently attracted little or no public attention as it was taking place. Later that same day, former President Trump issued a public statement acknowledging the execution of the warrant. 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,” the Justice Department writes. 

The DOJ then argues for unsealing the search warrant, citing “the intense public interest presented by a search of a residence of a former President.”

The filing confirms that the search warrant was “signed and approved by the Court on August 5." On Thursday, the DOJ filed "the redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search," according to its unsealing motion.

"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,” the filing adds. 

3:43 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

CNN analyst explains what we could see in unsealed documents related to the Trump Mar-a-Lago search

US Attorney General Merrick Garland arrives to speak about the FBI's search warrant served at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland arrives to speak about the FBI's search warrant served at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the Department of Justice filed a motion to unseal a search warrant and property receipt relating to the search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property.

CNN's legal analyst Elie Honig described the announcement as a "remarkable and unusual move" because "we essentially saw Merrick Garland call Donald Trump's bluff."

In the wake of this search warrant, Trump and his lawyers have two documents, Honig explained on CNN following Garland's remarks. "One is the search warrant itself with whatever attachments. And the other is this inventory or this receipt."

These documents have important information about the search. Usually, the Justice Department's policy is to only speak about things that are on the record with the court. But with this move, Garland is hoping to put these documents in front of Americans, Honig said.

The warrant typically will list logistical information: place to be searched, a general description of items to be searched for, the name of the judge, a deadline by which the DOJ has to execute the search.

But it also sometimes has an attachment, which typically will list the laws that the DOJ has probable cause to believe were violated. 

The second document is the inventory or the receipt.

"It's a listing. The FBI says, 'here are the items that were removed from Mar-a-Lago.' Again, degrees of specificity and generality tend to vary. I do not expect that to have a piece of paper by piece of paper breakdown if they took thousands of pages," Honig explains. "I think what we're going to see is listings like X number of boxes. If they took any electronic documents, if they took any laptops, cell phones, that kind of thing."

However, Honig notes that we will not see the affidavit, which is the most detailed document, that can be 20 to 100 pages where prosecutors lay out details that give them probable cause to believe laws were violated.

That document will remain confidential, and typically, that is released if and when there is a charge, Honig explains.

"If somebody gets searched and then indicted, then they will be given a copy of that affidavit ... so that that person can then challenge it in court," he said. 

WATCH: CNN Elie Honig breaks down how Merrick Garland just called Donald Trump's bluff