At a press conference, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” and pledged to protect FBI agents and Justice Department officials under attack from Trump supporting extremists, some whom have made death threats. An armed man who allegedly tried to storm the Cincinnati office of the FBI after calling for a violent response was killed by police on Thursday after a stand-off amid ferment among the MAGA mob over the raid.
Garland did not refer to the nuclear documents angle at his press conference, but the Washington Post, citing “people familiar with the investigation,” said classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought during search. In a post on Truth Social, his media platform, Trump said he will “not oppose the release of documents relating to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home.”
Meanwhile, there was wild speculation on social media, with Trump critics invoking the spectre of nuclear commerce on part of the former President and his family, going as far as to tie it with their business dealings with Saudi Arabia.
“People ask why Trump would keep (nuclear) docs. Plenty of possible reasons. E.g.—and this example is pure speculation: Signals intel on MBS & Khashoggi, or on Saudi nukes, are the kind of docs you’d want in case you had to remind the Saudis to keep the $$$ coming,” tweeted Bill Kristol, a conservative Trump critic.
People ask why Trump would keep docs.Plenty of possible reasons. E.g.—and this example is pure speculation: Signa… https://t.co/9nhqVpk3mE
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) 1660264854000
According to some media accounts, the Justice Department waited more than a year for Trump to return all classified material and initiated the raid after he ignored their requests. Garland suggested the Justice Department was intent on executing the search warrant quietly without making a spectacle of it, and it was the former President who went public about it.
“The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Garland said.
The fracas is complicated by the fact that Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court by then President Obama was blocked by the Senate Republicans, giving him (in their eyes) a motive for initiating the raid. “Karma would be Mitch McConnell blocking Merrick Garland from the Supreme Court in 2016 only for him to become the AG in 2021 who brings down Donald J. Trump in 2022,” one critic noted.
Garland rejected the suggestion that he has an ulterior motive, saying, “Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
The issue has now become a political lightning rod, with Trump and his supporters alleging political vendetta and even suggesting the FBI could have planted evidence during the raid.
Congressman Paul Gosar, an ardent right wing Trump supporter, went so far as call for the destruction of FBI to “save America.” And former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called Garland the “head of Biden’s secret police,” warned that “if Trump gets elected [president], the first thing he’ll do is raid every one of Biden’s houses.”
While some Trump critics are champing at the bit arguing the former President should be tried on charges ranging from stealing classified material to treason, few believe the issue will alter the deeply divided the political landscape. “The man can eat a live baby on national television and not a single Republican voter would give a sh!t,” one analyst wrote.