Attorney General Merrick Garland broke his silence on Thursday, three days after FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.
“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” Garland said in his short statement at the Justice Department in reaction to criticism of Monday’s FBI raid of the former president.
He defended the search warrant as authorized by a federal court, citing probable cause.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and our democracy,” he said. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor.”
Garland added the Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed the motion to unseal parts of the warrant, citing “substantial public interest” in the details.
He also defended the search warrant claiming the Justice Department tried to resolve issues they had with Trump through “less intrusive means.”
Garland also lectured those who criticized his department for the raid.
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” calling FBI and DOJ officials “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”
The attorney general did not take questions after finishing his four-minute statement.
“This is all I can say right now,” he said, exiting the stage.
The attorney general’s address indicates the Justice Department is aware the narrative surrounding the raid is spiraling out of control, calling into question the DOJ’s impartiality.
Elected Republicans demanded the Department of Justice and the FBI explain the reason for the raid on a former president of the United States, who is very likely to challenge Biden again in the 2024 presidential election.
Sen. John Cornyn issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday, demanding the Department of Justice explain its unprecedented actions.
“The American people deserve an honest explanation,” he wrote. “The longer the AG remains silent, the more this looks like a brazen abuse of power.”
President Joe Biden and the White House continue refusing to address the alarming incident, defending the independence of the Justice Department and repeatedly insisting they had no prior knowledge of the raid.
The president is currently on a week-long vacation at Kiawah Island, which is off the coast of South Carolina.
Anonymous White House aides claimed to reporters prior to Garland’s remarks that the White House had no prior notice of his decision to address the raid.
“We have had no notice that he was giving remarks and no briefing on the content of them,” a senior official said.