Mr. Garland now faces a more momentous decision that will further sharpen an already unprecedented and politically fraught situation: whether to pursue charges against Mr. Trump or any of his allies over their handling of the records at issue and their interactions with Justice Department officials seeking to retrieve them.
A decision to bring charges in the matter against Mr. Trump or any of his allies would thrust the Justice Department deeper into a political environment in which the former president’s supporters and Republican lawmakers are already accusing Mr. Garland and the department of overreach.
“He’s both extremely careful and he understands the critical role of an attorney general in these circumstances,” said former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who was Mr. Garland’s boss when they served under President Bill Clinton. “He appreciates the context in which this is occurring. I don’t think he considers politics at all, but I do think he recognizes the seriousness of actions against a former president.”
The DOJ had negotiated with Trump’s lawyers for months before searching Mar-a-Lago.