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GOP lawmakers urge transparency from Garland on Mar-a-Lago search

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Republican lawmakers on Sunday expressed a desire for Attorney General Merrick Garland to share the agency's justifications for its search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b6af6152e4d5e5638006f09cdcaaa1f9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Republican lawmakers on Sunday expressed a desire for Attorney General Merrick Garland to share the agency's justifications for its search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Republicans have called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to justify the search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence last week.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, on Sunday told CNN's State of the Union he has a "number of concerns" about the actions of the FBI and the Justice Department.

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"One is whether or not the raid itself was justified. We have this list from the FBI, but we don't have conclusive [evidence] as to whether or not this actually is classified material and whether or not it rises to the level of the highest classified material," Turner said. "On a bipartisan basis, Congress is saying, show us the goods. We want to know, one, what did the Department of Justice tell the judge that they were going to find and what did they find?"

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"No one is above the law," Turner added. "Donald Trump is not above the law. And Attorney General Garland is not above the law either. And Congress has the powers of oversight. He needs to comply."

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Turner on Sunday referred to a redacted inventory of items seized from the Palm Beach, Fla., club from a search warrant that was unsealed on Friday and agents took three sets of "miscellaneous" documents categorized at a lower secret level, as well as a "confidential document" that was not described and two others described as "miscellaneous confidential documents."

However, it was reported Saturday that a lawyer for Trump signed a written declaration in June claiming all classified documents held at Mar-a-Lago had been returned to the government, while Trump claimed the documents he kept at the residence had been declassified.

Chairman of the House intelligence committee Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Sunday told CBS News' Face the Nation that he had seen "no evidence" that Trump had declassified the documents.

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"First of all, a former president has no declassification authority," Schiff said. "And the idea that 18 months after the fact Donald Trump could simply announce, well, I'm you know, retroactively declassifying or whatever I took home had the effect of declassifying them is absurd."

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He added that the statutes asserted by the Justice Department in the search warrant did not require the documents to be classified.

"If they would be damaging to national security, it's a problem. It's a major problem," he said.

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Trump on Sunday also appeared to react to a Fox News report citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation that the FBI seized boxes containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege.

"Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged 'attorney-client' material, and also 'executive' privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken," Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. "By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!"

House Democrats have called for a review of whether Trump's storage of the records outside of the White House endangered national security, while Turner and other GOP lawmakers have insisted that the Justice Department provide more information about the records.

Seeking further clarity, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mark Warner, D-Va., on Sunday sent a private letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Garland asking for all information regarding the rationale behind the search, Rubio's office told Axios.

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"In his remarks, Attorney General Garland claimed there was a substantial public interest in the execution of an unprecedented search warrant on President Trump," Rubio said in a statement.

"As such, the intelligence committee has asked the Department of Justice to share with us on a classified basis, the specific intelligence documents seized from Mar-a-Lago."

An intelligence committee spokesperson also confirmed to Axios that the committee "requested that DOJ and ODNI provide the committee with the classified documents that were seized in the search of Mar-a-Lago, and an assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling."

Some Republican lawmakers have elevated the scrutiny of Garland with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., saying Saturday that she filed articles of impeachment against Garland for authorizing the search.

Appearing on ABC News' This Week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican critic of Trump's, described Greene's actions as "outrageous rhetoric" while urging the party to stand behind federal law enforcement and the justice system.

Hogan, however, said that further transparency from the Justice Department could dispel accusations from Trump and others that the raid was politically motivated.

"I think that's what we have to find out more information about: What really are the documents and what are the implications from a national security standpoint?" Hogan said. "One side, you can say, 'well, the Justice Department, the FBI and the federal judge believed that they should do it, then it must be pretty serious.' On the other hand, with the absence of more transparency, people are going to jump to conclusions."

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told ABC News that she "absolutely cannot" comment on the investigation, asserting that the Justice Department has "complete, complete independence" when it comes to law enforcement matters.

The White House and senior administration officials have asserted that Garland and the Justice Department acted on their own to carry out the raid and President Joe Biden was not briefed on the investigation.

"We've learned about this the same way the American people have learned about this," Jean-Pierre said.

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