Everyone Is Saying the Same Thing About Merrick Garland

He 'called Trump's bluff' with move to unseal Mar-a-Lago search warrant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 7:21 AM CDT
Everyone Is Saying the Same Thing About Merrick Garland
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – After Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that he was seeking to unseal the search warrant justifying Monday's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estates, numerous outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post, Politico, and the New York Times, had very similar headlines about him "calling Trump's bluff." Garland's move followed claims from Trump and his supporters that the search was part of a baseless, politically motivated "witch hunt," accusations Garland pushed back against in his remarks Thursday. More:

  • Trump was free to release the documents himself. In his remarks, Garland "alluded to the fact that Mr. Trump was free to release the documents himself, but has chosen not to do so," the Times notes. He said the warrant and the receipt for what the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago were provided "on the day of the search to the former president’s counsel, who was on site during the search."

  • "Release the warrant" had become a rallying cry. Trump allies had been urging the Department of Justice to "release the warrant," and the move to unseal it created a "sense of dog-catches-the-car whiplash for Trump and his team, who were forced to quickly decide whether to permit the release of the warrant or attempt to fight it in court," Kyle Cheney and Meredith McGraw write at Politico. Trump said on Truth Social late Thursday that he is "ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents."
  • "You want to play hardball?" "What Garland is doing is saying to Trump: You want to play hardball? I'm here for it," writes Chris Cillizza at CNN. He notes, however, that Garland is bound by policy on not commenting on ongoing investigations, while Trump "can essentially say anything he wants," true or not. "Which means, of course, that nothing Garland said on Thursday, nor the release of the search warrant and the receipt of what was taken from Mar-a-Lago, will a) slow Trump's insistence he is being unfairly targeted or b) change his followers' beliefs that he is."

  • Move is "not unheard of." Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, tells the Washington Post that the surprise move to unseal the warrant is "not typical, but it's not unheard of." Garland, he says, is "following the settled procedure for cases in which there’s a high degree of public interest in what is usually a confidential search."
  • What's not being released. The search came as part of an ongoing investigation of classified documents Trump allegedly removed from the White House. While the warrant will shed more light on the investigation, the government is not seeking to release the affidavit that supported it. The affidavit is a sensitive document "that lays out all sorts of telling details about the larger investigation of Mr. Trump—chief among them the reasons prosecutors believed there was probable cause that evidence of a crime could be found at Mar-a-Lago," per the New York Times.
(Read more Merrick Garland stories.)

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