October 5, 2022

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

2 min read


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

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday That the Justice Department filed a motion to unseal search warrants and property receipts related to the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.

CNN legal analyst Eli Hong called the announcement a “remarkable and unusual move” because “we basically saw Merrick Garland call Donald Trump’s bluff.”

In the context of that search warrant, Trump and his lawyers have two documents, Hong explained on CNN after Garland’s remarks. “One is the search warrant with whatever attachments. And the other is this inventory or this receipt.”

These documents contain important information about the search. In general, the Justice Department’s policy is to talk only about things the court has on the record. But with this move, Garland hopes to keep those documents in front of Americans, Honig said.

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

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

The second document is the inventory or receipt.

“Here’s a list. The FBI says, ‘These are the items that were removed from Mar-a-Lago.’ Again, the degrees of specificity and generality vary. I don’t expect thousands of pages of paper to be shredded, Hong explains. “I think what we’re going to see are lists like boxes. X No. If they took any electronic documents, if they took a laptop, cell phone, that kind of thing.”

However, Honig noted that we won’t see the affidavit, which is the most detailed document, which can be 20 to 100 pages long, where prosecutors offer details that would give them probable cause to believe There are laws that have been violated.

Honig explains that the document will remain confidential, and is usually released, if and when there are charges.

“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 said.

WATCH: CNN’s Ellie Hong breaks down how Merrick Garland called Donald Trump’s bluff.



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