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After Mar-a-Lago search, Trump challenged to ‘release the warrant’

Donald Trump could, in theory, voluntarily release the FBI search warrant used at Mar-a-Lago. Some are challenging him to do exactly that.


Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, is aware of the Republican pushback against the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago. On MSNBC today, the Supreme Court lawyer responded with a challenge to the former president:

“Donald Trump, you have a copy of the warrant. It explains what they were looking for, what statutes they think were violated, and what judge signed off on that. Release the warrant. You called on [Barack] Obama to release the birth certificate and all sorts of nonsense. If you believe this is such an abuse, let us see the warrant and let us decide for ourselves.”

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, pushed a similar line soon after. “Donald Trump has a copy of the search warrant,” the California congressman said via Twitter. “He’d show us the warrant if he were so wronged. Show it or shut it.”

To be sure, there are some Republicans pushing the FBI and the Justice Department to also release the warrant, which seems unlikely. Not only are there protocols in place to protect the rights of those facing federal law enforcement scrutiny, but such disclosures could conceivably interfere with an ongoing investigation. What’s more, there’s no reason to think the judge who signed off on the warrant would share such materials with the public.

But the FBI, the Justice Department and the judiciary aren’t the only ones with access to the search warrant. Trump and his lawyers have it, too.

The former president and his team are certainly under no obligation to release the documents to the press or the public. Indeed, it would be unusual for someone in this situation to make such a disclosure.

But Trump’s allies and followers appear to be working from a certain assumption: Federal law enforcement, they’ve claimed, “raided” the home of a former president for illegitimate reasons as part of an outrageous abuse of power. Team Trump could theoretically bolster those assumptions by releasing the search warrant that was executed yesterday, shedding light on the investigation and its direction.

If the basis for the warrant were flimsy, disclosing it would prove Republicans right. If the rationale for the search lacked merit, releasing the warrant would help on this front, too.

And who knows, maybe this will actually happen. Maybe Team Trump will hear this chatter, accept the challenge, release the warrant, and we’ll all see evidence that paints federal law enforcement in a scandalous new light.

Or maybe Team Trump would prefer that the public not see the search warrant, creating uncertainty and allowing Republicans to push conspiracy theories without proof.

Update: For readers who've never seen a search warrant, here's an example of one of the warrants from the investigation into Michael Cohen, and here's another related to John Eastman.

Note, the documents reflect what law enforcement intends to search for and what laws officials believe may have been broken.