Aug. 5: U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in South Florida approves an application for a search warrant, finding the FBI had probable cause to search Mar-a-Lago. The search warrant is sealed, as is typical for any pending investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland later says he personally approved the decision to seek the search warrant.
Aug. 8: The FBI executes the search at Mar-a-Lago in an unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president. Trump wasn’t at the estate at the time, which was shuttered for the season, but disclosed the search in a fiery public statement. He asserted agents had opened up a safe at his home in what he called an “unannounced raid” that he likened to “prosecutorial misconduct.”
Trump and his allies cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system aimed at keeping him from potentially winning another term if he formally decides to run for president in 2024. President Joe Biden’s White House said it had no prior knowledge of the search, and the current FBI director was originally appointed by Trump.
Aug. 10: The director of the FBI speaks out against a proliferation of threats and calls to arms in corners of the internet favored by right-wing extremists in the wake of the search. Speaking during a previously scheduled visit to the FBI field office in in Omaha, Nebraska, Christopher Wray says the rhetoric targeting federal agents and the Justice Department is “deplorable and dangerous” and “violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.”
Aug. 11: After days of public silence, Garland holds a brief news conference where he drops a major announcement: that he would ask the court to unseal the search warrant , a striking and unusual step for a pending investigation. Garland said the public was entitled to know what prompted the extraordinary search at a former president’s home.
Trump responds with a statement calling for “immediate” release of the warrant.
His lawyers do not immediately make public records they have that the government sought to unseal.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, an armed man wearing body armor tries to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office. He fled and was later killed following a standoff with police. A law-enforcement official briefed on the matter identified him as Ricky Shiffer and said he is believed to have been in Washington just before the attack on the Capitol and may have been there on Jan. 6. Further, he appeared to have been a prolific user of the Trump social-media platform Truth Social.
Aug. 12: Judge Reinhart unseals the warrant that authorized the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago, along with court papers showing that agents recovered documents labeled “top secret” among 11 sets of classified records. The court papers did not provide specific details about the documents or what information they might contain.
The warrant details that federal agents were investigating potential violations of three federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act.