Trump is free to release the Mar-a-Lago search warrant to back up his accusations against the FBI, but is choosing not to
- Donald Trump has sought to portray the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as a pretense.
- Releasing the search warrant could back his case.
Former President Donald Trump has sought to portray the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as part of a political plot to take him down, conducted on the basis of scant evidence.
Allies of the former president are urging the Justice Department to release more information about the search, and have questioned why officials have not made a formal statement about it.
Republicans have long believed that "deep state" government officials are working to destroy Trump politically.
"No, we're not releasing a copy of the warrant," a source close to Trump told NBC News, saying that it would be for the DOJ to do it.
—Sarah Isgur (@whignewtons) August 9, 2022
In an interview on the Real America's Voice network on Tuesday, Trump attorney Christina Bobb said the FBI did not let her have the warrant "right away," but that they "did let me see it."
She alleges that the FBI only had a "thin" justification for the search. She said they had been searching for "classified documents that they think should not have been removed from the White House" and items they believe were wrongly removed under the Presidential Records Act.
Bobb has said that the affidavit, or evidence supporting the warrant, is sealed, and that she had not been given access to it.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 9, 2022
Neama Rahmani, an attorney and former federal prosecutor, told Insider that it was standard practice to provide a copy of a warrant to a subject before a search was conducted.
Afterwards, he said, the subject would get an inventory describing what was taken.
Contained in the warrant, he said, would be a description of the items agents were looking for, as well as the statutes they believed had been violated.
"I would assume that the warrants would contain some information about what documents agents believed are present at Mar-a-Lago and where on the property those documents can found," he said.
He pointed to media reports indicating that agents were searching specific areas in the large property, indicating that they were working on detailed information.
There are good reasons why Trump may decide not to release the warrant.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, who authorized the warrant, likely did so on the basis of compelling evidence that would have come under intense scrutiny from top DOJ officials given Trump's status, Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst, wrote in an MSNBC article.
"I imagine the judge who reviewed a search warrant application for the home of a former president having more questions than usual," he wrote.
Rahmani speculated that there may be both legal and political reasons for Trump not releasing it.
"That search warrant and the probable cause statement in support of that search warrant could make him look bad politically," Rahmani said.
William Jeffress, a criminal defense attorney who represented former President Richard Nixon, agreed that Trump is "perfectly free to release the warrant and the inventory of items taken."
As a lawyer, he told Insider, "I see no danger that release of the items would hurt his legal defense." However, he added, "it surely might hurt his effort in the media to characterize the search as baseless or abusive."
Separately, there have been multiple motions from media organizations and transparency groups for the DOJ to unseal the warrant.
It has until Monday to respond, meaning the matter may soon be out of Trump's hands.
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