A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can register for free here.
Three days after the FBI’s unprecedented search of Mar-a-Lago, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday defended DOJ and FBI employees, saying, “I will not remain silent when their integrity is unfairly attacked.”
Attacks are leveled every minute of every hour. To give you an idea of the information environment surrounding this story, here is some of what has been said since Garland’s on-camera statement, in mainstream media and MAGA media, in chronological order from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday:
– Mollie Hemingway, Fox News contributor and editor of The Federalist: “Shut down the FBI. Immediately. They are a threat to the country and its autonomy”.
– Rep. Liz Cheney: “I was ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents involved in the recent Mar-a-Lago raid. These are disgusting comments who endanger the lives of patriotic officials.
– Jim Hoft of the far-right Gateway Pundit website: “Today Garland basically admitted he had nothing on President Trump. He couldn’t identify ANYTHING the president did that was illegal.
— Former Deputy Attorney General Don Ayer on CNN: ‘The AG has done a perfect job of resolving the dilemma it finds itself in.’
– “To sum up what’s going on here,” wrote NYT’s Charlie Savage, “Garland is basically calling Trump’s bluff.” Trump made the research public but did not share the underlying information. “Garland offers to show the public the documents that Trump has hidden,” Savage wrote.
– In response to the DOJ seeking to unseal the search warrant, a federal court in Florida ordered the DOJ to interview Trump’s team and tell the court by 3 p.m. Friday whether Trump objects to their release.
– Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We must defund the FBI, dismantle the DOJ, and rid the agencies of political bias and persecution.
– The suspect who allegedly tried to break into the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati, then was involved in a standoff lasting several hours, was reportedly dead after a shootout with police.
– A Truth Social account bearing the suspect’s name had an article about the attempted storming of an FBI office, as well as other content encouraging people to prepare for a revolutionary-style war.
– The @Acyn Twitter account, well known for sharing cable news clips on Twitter, wrote: “So the suspect was posting on the former president’s social media platform while engaged in a shootout with police?”
– Returning to the mystery of the FBI seizures, John Dean said on CNN: “It was probably top secret information that Trump hid and refused to release.
– Jesse Watters said on Fox that a “liberal librarian” wanted boxes of documents, and Trump continued to cooperate, even when they returned with a subpoena in June. “Some of the ‘stored’ things weren’t even documents,” he said. “It was like golf balls and Oval Office raincoats. You know, Trump is a memory guy. He concluded, ‘It was just a fishing expedition.’
– At 8 p.m., The Washington Post changed the night’s story with this headline: “FBI Searched Trump’s Home for Nuclear Documents and Other Items, Sources Say.”
– “Nuclear weapons information is particularly sensitive and typically reserved for a small number of government officials,” the Post team wrote, citing experts.
– On Fox, Brian Kilmeade, replacing Tucker Carlson, read aloud part of the Post’s story to Lara Trump and turned it into a joke: “Did you see any nuclear reports at the Mar-a- Lago, maybe around the pool, by the lifeguard station? She said “of course not”.
– “Trump could clear that up tonight”, journalist Steven Dennis tweeted. “What does the warrant say? What did they find?
– On MSNBC, historian Jon Meacham said that “if the Post’s reporting is correct, it has the capacity to be the nightmare scenario for these documents to leave government custody.”
– On CNN, Juliette Kayyem noted that “Post reporters are some of the best national security reporters out there, and they have strong sources of supply.”
— Back on Fox, former Florida AG Pam Bondi called the FBI’s search an assault: “There were hundreds of agents who must have been armed to carry out the assault at Mar-a-Lago. .”
– Presidential historian Michael Beschloss and avowed opponent of Trump said we urgently need to know: “If he illegally brought home and kept classified nuclear documents, did he share their secrets with enemies of the United States?”
– Laura Coates opened CNN’s 10 p.m. hour by calling the WaPo story a “major development that may explain, in part, the FBI’s urgency to retrieve classified documents with Trump’s home in Mar-a -The girlfriend”.
— Laura Ingraham started Fox’s 10 p.m. hour with ridicule Garland; saying that “it looks like they’ve whitewashed their latest explanation ‘for the search’ via the Washington Post”; and say that the reference to “nuclear documents” “could mean anything, right? It could be a printout from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency or the Department of Energy. That could be an email, whatever.
– The red banner of the Drudge Report: “FEDS HUNT NUKE DOCS.
– Senator Brian Schatz tweeted“Just a caveat that we still don’t know exactly what it is, and we should reserve some outrage if it really is as terrible as it sounds, and some credibility if it isn’t. is not the case. But it looks pretty bad.
– At 10:59 p.m., the ABC team reported that “the information was sensitive enough that authorities wanted to take it up immediately.”
Several news outlets have now asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to release information believed to be related to Mar-a-Lago’s search. On Thursday, CNN, joined by The Washington Post, NBC News and Scripps, requested access to the entire filing, “including all probable cause affidavits filed in support of the search warrant,” Tierney wrote. Sneed from CNN here.
“Before the events of this week, not since the Nixon administration had exercised the power of the federal government to seize the records of a former president so publicly,” lawyers for the news outlets said in the filing. The filing says “the overwhelming public interest in these particular documents outweighs any alleged interest in keeping them secret.”