House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) highlighted abnormalities found in the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago last summer in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday and demanded answers by the end of this week.
The letter describes abnormalities in the way the FBI handled the search against Trump versus other cases, exposing a potential bias and political targeting of Trump by President Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
The abnormalities were conveyed to Congress by Steven D’Antuono, the former assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and one of the most senior FBI officials in charge of implementing the raid.
The interview was conducted on June 7 — just days before the Biden DOJ indicted Trump.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) June 9, 2023
“During his testimony, Mr. D’Antuono expressed strong concerns with the Department’s pursuit of the raid and noted several unusual features in the Department’s handling of the case,” Jordan wrote to Garland.
“Mr. D’Antuono, who had over two decades of FBI experience, noted his frustration that the FBI was going to be ‘left holding the bag again’ with respect to the search of President Trump’s residence.”
According to D’Antuono, the abnormalities included:
1. The Miami Field Office did not conduct the search. Mr. D’Antuono testified that FBI headquarters made the decision to assign the execution of the search warrant to the Washington Field Office (WFO) despite the location of the search occurring in the territory of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.
Mr. D’Antuono stated that he had “absolutely no idea” why this decision was made and questioned why the Miami Field Office was not taking the lead on this matter.
2. The Department did not assign a U.S. Attorney’s Office to the matter. According to Mr. D’Antuono, it was unusual to not have a U.S. Attorney assigned to an investigative matter, especially a matter of this magnitude. He explained that he “didn’t understand why there wasn’t a US Attorney assigned” and “raised this concern a lot with” Department officials because this was out of the ordinary. Mr. D’Antuono indicated that he “never got a good answer” and was told that the National Security Division would be handling this matter—with Jay Bratt, who leads the Department’s counterintelligence division, as “the lead prosecutor on the case.” Mr. Bratt is the same Department lawyer who allegedly improperly pressured a lawyer representing an employee of President Trump.
3. The FBI did not first seek consent to effectuate the search. Mr. D’Antuono recounted a meeting between FBI and Department officials during which the Department assertively pushed for the FBI to promptly execute the search warrant. Based upon his over-20-year tenure at the FBI, Mr. D’Antuono testified that he believed that the FBI, prior to resorting to a search warrant, should have sought consent to search the premises. He testified that this outcome would have been “the best thing for all parties” involved— “[f]or the FBI, for former President Trump, and for the country . . . .” Mr. D’Antuono indicated a belief that either you or Director Christopher Wray made the decision to seek a search warrant, despite opposition from the line agents working this case in the WFO.
4. The FBI refused to wait for President Trump’s attorney to be present before executing the search. Mr. D’Antuono testified that the FBI sought to exclude President Trump’s attorney from the search, a move with which Mr. D’Antuono disagreed. Mr. D’Antuono believed that the FBI should have worked with the attorney to get consent to search the residence prior to seeking a warrant for the search. Mr. D’Antuono believes that “there was a good likelihood that [they] could have gotten consent . . . .”
Jordan is now asking Garland to produce all documents and communications referring or relating to meetings between FBI and Justice Department officials prior to the execution of the search warrant on Mar-al-Lago; all documents and communications referring or relating to the execution of a search warrant, including those sent or received by the following FBI and Justice Department Officials: a. Paul Abbate, b. Matthew Olsen, c. Jay Bratt, d. George Toscas, e. Steven D’Antuono; and all documents and communications between or among Washington Field Office agents and employees and the U.S. Secret Service about a potential search of Mar-a-Lago.
Jordan gave Garland a deadline of 5:00 p.m. on June 16, 2023.
Donald Trump Jr. reacted to the FBI raid at of Mar-A-Lago, saying that the Democrats are "openly targeting their political enemies." https://t.co/C5IOasb3so
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 9, 2022
“The Biden Department of Justice is reportedly about to indict a former president and President Biden’s chief rival in the upcoming presidential election. According to reports, the Department will indict President Donald Trump, despite declining to indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information and failing to indict President Biden for his mishandling of classified information,” Jordan said in the letter.
“The indictment creates, at the minimum, a serious appearance of a double standard and a miscarriage of justice,” he said. “Additional information recently obtained by the Committee about the Department’s execution of a search warrant on President Trump’s residence only reinforces our grave concerns that your reported actions are nothing more than a politically motivated prosecution.”