A federal judge in Florida has given the U.S. Department of Justice a week to suggest redactions to the affidavit justifying the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last week, paving the way for parts of the document are publicly available.
Judge Bruce Reinhart’s decision came Thursday during a much-anticipated court hearing in West Palm Beach that pitted federal prosecutors, who had argued to keep the affidavit sealed, against U.S. media organizations that want it released because of the enormous public interest in the case. .
The affidavit — a detailed Justice Department explanation of its reasons for seeking a search warrant at the former president’s property — has remained secret since the Aug. 8 FBI raid.
Not only have media organizations called for its public release, but so have many Republicans in Congress, hoping to shed more light on the Justice Department’s rationale for searching Trump’s home.
The DoJ had argued against any release of the affidavit on the grounds that it could compromise the investigation and prevent the cooperation of witnesses in this and other investigations. Federal prosecutors also said the document would have to be heavily redacted if it were to be released because of the nature of the investigation, which includes highly classified material retained by Trump after he left the White House.
Reinhart rejected the argument that the affidavit should remain “completely sealed,” saying he was “not prepared” to keep it that way, suggesting he is tempted to partially seal it with some level of writing
Last week he allowed the search warrant and list of items recovered by the FBI from Trump’s home to be made public. Those documents showed federal prosecutors were investigating the former president for mishandling information related to national defense in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as obstruction of justice and tampering with government records.
On Thursday, the court unsealed the cover of the search warrant request, confirming that the DoJ has been investigating Trump for the “deliberate withholding of national defense information,” the “concealment or deletion of government records ” and “obstruction of federal investigation”. “.
But the affidavit, if released in full, would reveal much more about the government’s investigation into Trump and the purpose of the search, which has been politically explosive and prompted a furious backlash from Trump and his most ardent supporters.
Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, reacted to the ruling saying the judge had “rejected the DoJ’s cynical attempt to hide the entire affidavit from the American people.”
“However, redactions should not be necessary and the entire affidavit should be released, given the tendency of Democrats to use redactions to hide government corruption, as they did with the Russia hoax.” added.