Thursday’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Department of Justice has filed a request to disclose the search warrant and title deed from the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, is a smart move.
Search warrants are generally sealed to protect the reputation of the person they apply to. But Trump himself broke the news of the search, shattering his own expectations of privacy, to orchestrate a political firestorm to discredit the investigation. And if Trump were to fight to keep the document sealed, he would look even more like he has something to hide.
“This is a good move,” Phil Mudd, a former FBI and CIA official, said of Garland’s actions. “This is not the move of a pawn. This is a movement of something between a rook and a queen.”
If Trump decided to challenge the unsealing of the warrant — a move that could neutralize the GOP’s claims that the ex-president is a target of political victimization — his lawyers would have to explain in court why. The judge in the case, who has received death threats and insults on social media from Trump supporters, could still decide to support the Justice Department’s motion, even if the former president wants to keep the information secret.
Garland’s game is an obvious attempt to quell the anger of Republican officials over the unprecedented search warrant at the former president’s home. Lawmakers, media pundits and Trump supporters have unleashed unhinged claims that the US is now nothing more than a police state, with a Gestapo-esque secret police, and has descended into tyranny.
Read more from CNN’s Stephen Collinson here.