Trump doubles down on Mar-a-Lago ‘deadly force’ raid criticism 

National News

By Tom Ozimek 
Contributing Writer 

A day after special counsel Jack Smith demanded a gag order to bar former President Donald Trump from commenting in certain ways on the circumstances of the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago home, the former president doubled down on his rhetoric about the “deadly force” authorization for the raid. 

“Biden’s DOJ authorized use of deadly force against President Trump in Mar-a-Lago raid,” reads a meme that Trump shared on Saturday on social media, with the post featuring an image of President Joe Biden giving a speech while clenching his fists. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who heads the Department of Justice, reacted critically on Thursday to a similar comment by Trump that claimed 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 at a Thursday press conference, a day before prosecutors asked for a gag order to prevent Trump from making similar claims. 

‘Deadly Force’ Authorization Saga 

Trump’s defiant post on Saturday came hot on the heels of Friday’s court filing, in which Smith’s office asked Judge Aileen Cannon to modify the conditions of the former president’s release from jail before trial so as to prohibit him from making statements that may pose a “significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger” to the FBI agents involved in the planning and execution of the search and seizure of presidential documents stored at his Florida estate. 

The “deadly force” authorization chapter comes in an ongoing legal saga in which Trump has been accused of improperly retaining sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago home. It’s a case that the former president insists is a politically motivated bid to thwart his 2024 presidential comeback bid — and one that he says belies a two-tiered standard of justice since Biden was found to have improperly kept classified documents but faced no charges. 

The latest controversy was prompted by the emergence earlier this month of an operations plan for the Mar-a-Lago raid that was produced through discovery. The plan stated that FBI agents would be prepared to “engage with” Trump and his Secret Service agents should he arrive at the estate during the raid. 

The use of deadly force was included in a statement on the document, which quoted standard government policy that noted deadly force may be used “only when necessary” in such cases when the subject of the force “poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.” 

Trump’s lawyers said that there was no justification for the FBI to bring guns into Mar-a-Lago, while his campaign issued an alert stating that the Justice Department was “locked and loaded” and “ready to take me out” because the FBI was authorized to “use deadly force” during the raid. 

Prosecutors said in the filing that Trump “distorted the standard inclusion of the policy” when he made statements that the FBI “WAS AUTHORIZED to SHOOT ME.” 

Further, prosecutors wrote in the gag request that the law enforcement agents participating in the raid acted in an “appropriate and professional manner, subject to the Department of Justice’s standard use-of-force policy.” 

“Trump‘s repeated mischaracterization as an attempt to kill him, his family, and Secret Service agents has endangered law enforcement officers involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case and threatened the integrity of these proceedings,” the filing states. “Those deceptive and inflammatory assertions irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case, as Trump well knows.” 

More Details 

Prosecutors noted in the gag order filing that “an armed attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, was carried out by one of his supporters in the wake of Trump’s Truth Social statements inflaming his supporters regarding the search of Mar-a-Lago.” 

The filing indicates that Trump’s lawyers objected to the prosecution’s motion and timing of their request on the Memorial Day holiday weekend. 

“They do not believe that there is any imminent danger, and asked to meet and confer next Monday,” the filing states. 

Prosecutors pointed to Trump’s social media account on Truth Social and some prior sharply worded posts to bolster their argument not to wait until Monday. 

“Trump has continued to issue false statements, smearing and endangering the agents who executed the search,” they argued. 

The request for a gag order is the first in Trump’s classified documents case. 

Caden Pearson contributed to this report. 

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