Senior U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials are blaming FBI Director Christopher Wray for the recent raid of former President Donald Trump’s home in an apparent attempt to take pressure off U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
After Trump confirmed the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on Monday, many Republican politicians called on both Wray and Garland to explain the justification for the raid.
For example, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said, “Merrick Garland, Chris Wray, come to the House Judiciary Committee this Friday and answer our questions about this action today, which has never happened in American history.”
Similarly, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called out the DOJ’s “intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and told Garland to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar” as he pledged an investigation into the FBI raid if the Republicans take control of the House after November’s midterms.
Even Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 Capitol Riots, said Wray and Garland “owe transparency on the justification for setting such a striking precedent.”
However, one senior DOJ official told Newsweek that the final decision to green-light the raid on Mar-a-Lago rested with FBI Director Wray.
“I know it’s hard for people to believe, but this was a matter for the U.S. Attorney and the FBI,” the source told Newsweek.
“It really is a case of the Bureau misreading the impact,” the source added.
Although the DOJ source claimed Wray gave the final go-ahead, Newsweek also reported that Attorney General Garland “was regularly briefed” on the investigation into Trump and “he knew about the grand jury and what material federal prosecutors were seeking.”
However, the source insisted “that Garland had no prior knowledge of the date and time of the specific raid, nor was he asked to approve it,” according to Newsweek.
The grand jury investigation over a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act that led to the raid on Mar-a-Lago reportedly began in April.
Another senior DOJ official told Newsweek that the Mar-a-Lago raid was a “spectacular backfire” because the FBI reportedly planned the raid while Trump was not in Florida in an effort to avoid any media circus.
As Newsweek detailed:
The officials, who have direct knowledge of the FBI’s deliberations and were granted anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters, said the raid of Donald Trump’s Florida residence was deliberately timed to occur when the former president was away.
FBI decision-makers in Washington and Miami thought that denying the former president a photo opportunity or a platform from which to grandstand (or to attempt to thwart the raid) would lower the profile of the event, says one of the sources, a senior Justice Department official who is a 30-year veteran of the FBI.
The first DOJ source told Newsweek:
I know that there is much speculation out there that this is political persecution, but it is really the best and the worst of the bureaucracy in action. They wanted to punctuate the fact that this was a routine law enforcement action, stripped of any political overtones, and yet [they] got exactly the opposite.
“They were seeking to avoid any media circus. So even though everything made sense bureaucratically and the FBI feared that the documents might be destroyed, they also created the very firestorm they sought to avoid, in ignoring the fallout,” the second source said.
With Republicans rallying around the former president after news of the raid broke, it appears the FBI got the exact opposite of what they wanted.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.
“It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections,” said Trump.