Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Robert Tait in Washington and agency

US attorney general calls Trump’s claim FBI was ready to shoot him ‘dangerous’

Older white man, longish coiffed white hair, dark suit, speaking in front of American flag.
Merrick Garland at the Department of Justice in Washington on 23 May 2024. Photograph: Ken Cedeno/Reuters

Donald Trump’s former White House lawyer has attacked the judge handling the classified documents criminal case for repeated delays and “incompetence” – while the US attorney general separately criticized as “dangerous” Trump’s claim this week that the FBI had been authorized to shoot him during its investigation.

Former presidential counsel Ty Cobb said decisions made by Aileen Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge in the US district court in Florida who is overseeing the federal documents case, virtually guaranteed that the case would not be tried before November’s presidential poll.

He attributed her recent rulings that further slowed the crawling legal process, on issues that most federal judges would have long since dealt with, to “incompetence” and “perceived bias” and said the case should have already come to trial.

“I don’t think this case will move at all,” he said. “And I think the fact that she’s scheduling hearings, multiple hearings, sort of one or two motions at a time, is compelling evidence of that …

“This is a case that should’ve started trial yesterday or two days ago when the original trial date was set … only her incompetence and perceived bias has prevented that.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, said at the Department of Justice in Washington DC that Trump’s assertions that the FBI had been authorized to shoot him during its 2022 search of his Florida club during an investigation into him hiding classified documents were “false” and “extremely dangerous”.

Garland told reporters that the former president and some of his allies had been referring to a “standard operations plan” that limits when federal 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 he retained after leaving office. Agents found a slew of records that led to one of the four criminal prosecutions Trump currently faces.

Before the search, the FBI drafted a policy statement, which was made public this week, authorizing 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 falsely claimed in fundraising messages sent by his campaign this week that the FBI had been authorized to shoot him.

“BREAKING FROM TRUMP: BIDEN’S DOJ WAS AUTHORIZED TO SHOOT ME! It’s just been revealed that Biden’s DoJ was authorized to use DEADLY FORCE for their DESPICABLE raid in Mar-a-Lago,” fundraising emails said.

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.

Trump, who is currently awaiting a jury verdict in a New York trial in which he is accused of falsifying documents relating to paying an adult film actor hush money, is charged with mishandling classified documents after he left the White House and obstructing an investigation to recover them.

While Cannon had denied efforts by the former president’s lawyers to have the case thrown out, she has drawn criticism from legal analysts and Democrats for taking months to rule on individual motions, slowing the case down in an election year.

Democrats say her actions serve Trump’s strategy of delaying a trial date beyond November’s election and having the case annulled if he wins.

This month, Cannon postponed the trial date indefinitely, citing the need for the court to establish how classified information would be dealt during proceedings – even though such procedures are covered in the Classified Information Procedures Act (Cipa).

Cobb, who was appointed Trump’s counsel despite not having voted for him, has previously criticised the conduct that has seen the ex-president facing 88 criminal charges in numerous cases.

“The facts are terrible. His conduct is reprehensible,” he told MSNBC in February. He has previously called Trump “the greatest threat to democracy that we’ve ever seen”.

Cobb was the then president’s counsel during former FBI director Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Reuters contributed reporting

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.