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Donald Trump 'Misjudged' Merrick Garland Over FBI Raid: Legal Analyst

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/13/2022 James Bickerton
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivering a statement at the U.S. Department of Justice August 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. Trump "misjudged" Garland according to an MSNBC legal expert © Drew Angerer/GETTY U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivering a statement at the U.S. Department of Justice August 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. Trump "misjudged" Garland according to an MSNBC legal expert

Donald Trump "misjudged" Attorney General Merrick Garland before the FBI's unprecedented Mar-a-Lago raid, according to legal analyst Tali Farhadian Weinstein.

The FBI entered Trump's Florida home with a search warrant on Monday looking for classified documents.

According to the warrant, which was later unsealed, agents were investigating the former president for possible breaches of a number of laws, including the Espionage Act.

If found guilty of breaking the 1917 Espionage Act Trump could face up to ten years in prison, along with a fine, for compromising sensitive material related to U.S. defense.

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On Thursday Attorney General Garland confirmed he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago.

The warrant was approved by Judge Bruce Reinhart, a local magistrate.

Speaking on MSNBC, Weinstein, who worked under Garland when he was a judge at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, suggested Trump underestimated her old boss.

Referring to the former president, she said: "He misjudged Attorney General Garland and how steely he is and I think he sort of demonstrated the casualness about national security that is at the heart of everything going on here."

Weinstein added it's still not clear whether the raid was "an end in and of itself" conducted to remove classified documents "out of an insecure place", or "if it was a step in a criminal investigation that is still unfolding."

She continued: "I think it was at least the former and maybe both. And it just, it sort of tells you something about the state of his [Trump's] mind and the people around him that they didn't understand what kind of insecurity this creates for [our] country if these documents are lying around."

Sources close to the investigation told The Washington Post material targeted in the raid included classified papers relating to nuclear weapons.

It is unclear whether any were recovered, or if they referred to the U.S. nuclear program or that of another country.

In response Trump insisted he had declassified the documents, though this was disputed by independent intelligence experts.

Posting on his Truth Social website he said: "Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn't need to 'seize' anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.

"They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK."

According to reports the National Archives and Records Administration has spent some time trying to get Trump to return documents he took with him out of the White House.

When it became apparent some of these documents were marked classified the Department of Justice launched an investigation.

Newsweek has contacted Trump's team for comment.

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