- The DOJ has filed a motion to unseal its Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
- It said that the search "attracted little or no public attention" while it was taking place.
- But Trump's decision to announce it changed those circumstances, and the DOJ now wants the warrant unsealed.
The Justice Department on Thursday asked a federal judge to unseal the search warrant and other records related to the raid of Mar-a-Lago, the South Florida home and members-only club of former President Donald Trump.
At a press conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department had taken the unusual step "in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter."
Garland's public remarks, his first since the Monday search of Mar-a-Lago, coincided with the Justice Department asking a magistrate judge in South Florida to unseal the warrant and an inventory of items seized from Trump's property.
According to the department's filing, a federal magistrate judge in South Florida approved the warrant on August 5 — the Friday before the search of Mar-a-Lago. The filing indicated that the inventory of items seized from Mar-a-Lago would be at least partially "redacted," meaning blacked-out in the version available to the public.
In the five-page filing, the Justice Department linked its decision to unseal the records closely to Trump's rhetoric in the aftermath of the Mar-a-Lago search — an FBI raid he excoriated as a politically-motivated "weaponization of the Justice System."
"At the time the warrant was initially executed, the Department provided notice directly to former President Trump's counsel," the DOJ said in the motion. 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."
"Later that same day, former President Trump issued a public statement acknowledging the execution of the warrant," the motion continued. "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."
"In these circumstances involving a search of the residence of a former President, the government hereby requests that the Court unseal," the Justice Department said, "absent objection by former President Trump."
Trump's public confirmation of the Mar-a-Lago search drew condemnations from Republican allies, who called on the Justice Department to release more details about the raid. In a lengthy statement, the former president accused the Justice Department and the FBI of "prosecutorial misconduct" and "political persecution," adding: "They even broke into my safe!"