Garland calls Trump’s false claim of Biden DOJ plan to potentially assassinate him during FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search ‘extremely dangerous’

Garland calls Trump’s false claim of Biden DOJ plan to potentially assassinate him during FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search ‘extremely dangerous’
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(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday slammed former President Donald Trump for insinuating President Joe Biden authorized his potential assassination during the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022 for confidential government material, pointing out that a similar Justice Department memo on the use of deadly force was also used in the FBI search of Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home in January 2023.

Garland called Trump’s accusation, which came after documents were unsealed Tuesday by the special counsel investigating the ongoing federal probe into those missing documents, “false and extremely dangerous.”

“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,” he told reporters at an unrelated news conference. “And in fact, it was even used in the consensual search of President Biden’s home.”

As part of the Aug. 8, 2022, operation at Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents were given a standard policy document that limited the use of deadly force, according to the unsealed memo.

The FBI echoed Garland’s comments in a updated statement Thursday, noting that its use of a “deadly force” policy statement was included when agents searched Biden’s Delaware home a few months later over the same issue, “as is standard practice for all FBI operations orders.”

“No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter,” the agency said in a statement.

This was the FBI’s second response this week over Trump’s false claims, which he made in a Truth Social post and fundraising letter Tuesday.

Trump falsely claimed Biden was “locked & loaded ready to take me out,” in the letter. In the Truth Social post, the former president claimed he was “shown Reports” that Biden’s DOJ “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE” in their search of the property for classified documents.

The memo was part of a ‘Law Enforcement Operations Order’ drawn up by agents preparing to carry out the search of Mar-a-Lago, after a magistrate judge agreed the government had shown probable cause that agents would find evidence of unlawfully retained national defense information and obstruction of justice on the premises.

Agents ultimately recovered around 100 documents with classification markings — months after the government subpoenaed Trump for any remaining in his possession, and after the government said it gathered evidence Trump had misled his own lawyers to sign a false certification asserting all such documents had been returned.

“The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force,” the FBI said in a statement Tuesday. “No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.”

Multiple former FBI and DOJ officials also confirmed the standard nature of the inclusion of the deadly force policy.

“Anytime the [FBI] takes an adversarial action like executing a search warrant, there is a deadly force policy,” former DOJ official and ABC News contributor Sarah Isgur tweeted. “If there is danger to you or public and there’s no alternatives, you are authorized to use deadly force. This is standard policy.”

Trump and two co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them and denied wrongdoing.

Trump’s attorneys in their filing Tuesday made no such accusation that the inclusion of the policy showed Biden was preparing to assassinate Trump, and it’s not immediately clear whether they had shared the information — part of a vast trove of discovery in his case — with Trump before it being unsealed.

While Trump said he first learned of the filing after being “shown Reports” about it after court proceedings were finished in his New York state criminal hush money case, Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene later posted on X that she “made sure” Trump knew about the false claim the “Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate” him.

The operations order further indicated how agents were well aware Trump would not be present at the property during the search, as it was carried out during Mar-a-Lago’s off-season when Trump normally resides at his property in Bedminster, New Jersey.

They did, however, include a contingency plan in the event Trump showed up at the property mid-search, at which time they said FBI personnel on site would be prepared “to engage with” him and his Secret Service security detail. The full context shows there’s no suggestion of the situation escalating into violence, and that it was more about assigning points of contact responsible for speaking with members of Trump’s detail.

The order also further bolsters testimony from the former director of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office Steve D’Antuono, who previously testified to Congress he was “adamant” agents executing the warrant “didn’t do a show of force.”

“It wasn’t even a show of force, right, because we were all in agreement,” D’Antuono said in an exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “No raid jackets, no blazed FBI … We weren’t bringing any like FBI vehicles, everything that was reported about helicopters and a hundred people descending on, like, a ‘Die Hard’ movie, was completely untrue, right? That is not how we played it.”

The operation order shows case agents on scene were instructed to dress “business casual” with “unmarked polo or collared shirts” and other law enforcement equipment concealed.

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