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Trump claims of FBI threat ‘extremely dangerous,’ US attorney general says

U.S. Attorney General Garland announces lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, in Washington
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announces an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2024. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno Purchase Licensing Rights, opens new tab
WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday called former President Donald Trump’s claims that the FBI was authorized to shoot him during its 2022 search of his Florida club “false” and “extremely dangerous.”

Garland told reporters that Trump and some of his allies were referring to a “standard operations plan” that limits when agents can use lethal force while executing search warrants.

The FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022 to retrieve classified material that he retained after leaving office. Agents found a slew of records that led to one of the four criminal prosecutions Trump currently faces.

Ahead of the search the FBI drafted a policy statement, which was made public this week, that authorized law enforcement to use deadly force only if an officer or another person was under immediate threat. Trump was not present when the search took place.

Trump, the Republican challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election, has falsely claimed in fundraising messages sent by his campaign this week that the FBI was authorized to attempt an assassination.

“BREAKING FROM TRUMP: BIDEN’S DOJ WAS AUTHORIZED TO SHOOT ME!” read one e-mail, titled “I nearly escaped death.”

“It’s just been revealed that Biden’s DOJ was authorized to use DEADLY FORCE for their DESPICABLE raid in Mar-a-Lago.”

Garland, who oversees the FBI as attorney general, said such policies are routine and were also in effect during consensual searches of Biden’s homes conducted by the FBI in a separate classified documents investigation.

“That allegation is false and it’s extremely dangerous,” Garland told reporters during a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the concert promoter Live Nation.

The use-of-force document was among hundreds of pages of records unsealed this week in the criminal case accusing Trump of unlawfully retaining sensitive government documents after leaving the White House in 2021. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

His defense team is seeking to suppress evidence seized during the search, arguing that it violated Trump’s rights under the U.S. Constitution.

FBI agents seized about 100 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago during the court-authorized search, which came after Trump thwarted government demands to return the documents, according to prosecutors.

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Reporting by Andrew Goudsward, additional reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama

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