Merrick Garland blasts Trump claims about FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday rejected former President Donald Trump‘s claim that the Biden administration authorized the FBI to use deadly force against him during a search of his Mar-a-Lago property for classified documents.

“That allegation is false, and it is extremely dangerous,” Garland said during a news conference.

His remarks were in response to Trump writing this week on Truth Social that he had been shown reports indicating “that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE.”

The Trump campaign made a similar claim in a fundraising email that alleged “Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out.”

Trump was in New Jersey when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.

In making the allegations, Trump appeared to be citing newly unsealed court filings related to the 2022 search.

Garland said Thursday that the document in question was stating standard policy.

“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 is part of the standard operations plan for searches. And in fact, it was even used in the consensual search of President Biden’s home,” Garland said.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Garland’s comments were not the first time the Justice Department has pushed back on Trump’s characterization.

In a rare statement Tuesday night, the FBI said that it had “followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants,” and that no additional steps had been ordered for Mar-a-Lago.

According to Justice Department policy, law enforcement officers are allowed to use force only in the absence of other safe alternatives. Deadly force is permitted only “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,” the policy states.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he willfully retained national defense information in connection with classified documents that were uncovered at his Florida estate after he left office and that he ordered a Mar-a-Lago staffer to delete security video at the property. The trial has been indefinitely postponed.

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