Former U.S. President Donald Trump said on social media on Friday that the "nuclear weapons issue is a hoax," responding to a Washington Post report that FBI agents sought nuclear documents in a search of his Florida home earlier this week.
It was not clear whether such documents were recovered at the Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the Post said. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.
The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorized the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, after the Republican former president portrayed it as political retribution.
On Friday morning, Trump said on his Truth Social startup social media platform that the "nuclear weapons issue is a hoax," equating it to controversies involving Russia, an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his two impeachments.
"Same sleazy people involved," he said.
Trump did not offer any evidence to corroborate his "hoax" claim or his claim that he also made that evidence may have been planted.
"Why wouldn’t the FBI allow the inspection of areas at Mar-a-Lago with our lawyer’s, or others, present?" he also said on Truth Social.
The search of his home was part of an investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he left office in January 2021, some of which the Justice Department believes are classified.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top U.S. law enforcement officer and an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, told a news conference on Thursday that he had personally approved the search. The Justice Department also seeks to make public a redacted receipt of the items seized.
"The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken," Garland said.
His decision to publicly confirm the search was highly unusual. U.S. law enforcement officials typically do not discuss ongoing investigations in order to protect people's rights. In this case, Trump himself announced the search in a Monday night statement.
Garland said the Justice Department asked for the warrant to be made public "in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter."
Late on Thursday, Trump called for the immediate release of documents related to the search. The government has until 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Friday to let the court know whether Trump's attorneys will object to unsealing the warrant.
A source familiar with the matter said the FBI retrieved about 10 boxes from Trump's property during the search.
Trump was not in Florida at the time.
The unprecedented search marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business, including a separate one by the Justice Department into a failed bid by Trump's allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election by submitting phony slates of electors.
The investigation into Trump's removal of records started this year, after the National Archives made a referral to the department.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chris Gallagher, Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)