Merrick Garland Reacts to Trump’s Claims FBI Agents Were ‘Locked and Loaded’

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday responded to claims about FBI agents being authorized to use deadly force during the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in 2022.

In response to the FBI development, which was revealed in court documents this week, President Trump’s campaign said in an alert that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was “locked and loaded” and “ready to take me out” because the FBI was authorized to “use deadly force” during the raid. He was referring to a “Law Enforcement Operations Order” that was released as part of the tranche of court documents regarding FBI agents’ capabilities during the search.

But Mr. Garland disputed the former president’s claims, saying that “the document that has been referred to in the allegation is the Justice Department’s standard policy, limiting the use of force as the FBI advises it as part of the standard operations plan for searches.”

“And in fact, it was even used in the consensual search of President [Joe] Biden’s home,” he added, saying that the former president’s statement about the raid was “false.” The attorney general made the remark during a press conference announcing an unrelated government lawsuit against Live Nation, the concert promotion company.

The FBI told The Epoch Times earlier this week that its agents had “followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants” during the Mar-a-Lago search in August 2022. The agency carried out the search to retrieve classified documents as part of an investigation into the former president that later resulted in his indictment last year.

“No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter,” the FBI added.

The DOJ’s policy around searches allows law enforcement officials to use force unless there are no other alternatives. Deadly force, according to the DOJ, is allowed “when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

In the alert about the FBI raid posted to the former president’s campaign’s website, his campaign wrote that “you know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable,” adding that “we will never surrender.”

In the case, President Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he retained classified materials and allegedly obstructed efforts by the government to get them after he left the White House in early 2021. The trial has been indefinitely postponed, with a judge overseeing the case noting that there are numerous outstanding issues that she has yet to rule on.

Earlier this week, prosecutors and a Trump co-defendant’s lawyer were embroiled in an argument during a hearing over motions to dismiss the case, with a defense lawyer accusing a DOJ official to trying to put pressure on his client to cooperate. The lawyer, Stanley Woodward, said that during a meeting in 2022, DOJ official Jay Bratt allegedly suggested that he might interfere with his judgeship recommendation if his client doesn’t comply with the government.

That accusation prompted another DOJ prosecutor to accuse Mr. Woodward of lying to the court, drawing the attention of Judge Aileen Cannon. She told the prosecutor to calm down, later saying that she will issue a ruling on the motion to dismiss at a later date.

The former president has maintained that the classified documents case, along with three others in different jurisdictions, are part of an attempt to interfere in the 2024 presidential election while he is the leading Republican candidate for president.

President Trump is currently awaiting a jury verdict in his New York trial where he is accused of falsifying records relating to payments made to an adult film performer to remain silent about an affair, which he denied. He also faces election-related charges in Washington and Fulton County, Georgia. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Earlier in the trial, Judge Juan Merchan affirmed that jurors will be told that they can only convict President Trump if they believe he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they deadlock, the judge will then have to declare a mistrial.

If the former president is convicted, it would likely be several weeks or months until he is sentenced. As a first-time offender of a nonviolent crime, he would likely be released on bond in the meantime.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and President Trump’s attorneys will present their closing arguments next Tuesday, or the day after Memorial Day. Both parties rested their respective cases earlier in the week.

During deliberations, jurors will have access to all of the evidence and be able to ask questions of the judge, who will confer with prosecutors and defense lawyers before deciding how to answer.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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