Judge orders release of Mar-a-Lago’s redacted affidavit

The judge reviewing the release of the affidavit used to support the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday ordered a redacted version released Friday noon.

It was unclear whether the Justice Department would appeal.

Earlier Thursday, the Department of Justice submitted its proposals for writing the affidavit.

In his order, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said that after reviewing the DOJ memorandum and proposed redactions, he believes the government has met its obligation to show compelling reason and good cause to seal the parties. requested of the affidavit because “disclosure would reveal the identities of witnesses, law enforcement officers and unaccused parties, the strategy, focus, scope, sources and methods of the investigation , as well as information from the grand jury…”

He says the government has also discharged its burden of showing that the proposed redactions “are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative for seal the entire affidavit”.

He gave the DOJ until noon Friday to file for the public record a version of the affidavit containing the redactions sent Thursday.

Reinhart had given department officials a noon deadline on Thursday to submit the drafting proposals under seal along with a legal memorandum explaining their rationales for the information they said should be hidden from public view. Reinhart had said he was not inclined to keep the full affidavit sealed, saying he believed there were parts of it that could plausibly be unsealed.

The government argued in court last week that the redactions they felt were necessary to protect the integrity of their ongoing criminal investigation would essentially render the document “meaningless”.

A coalition of media organizations, including ABC News, called for the affidavit to be released even with redactions – citing the need for more public education in light of the historic nature of the search of a former’s residence. President.

An aerial view shows President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on August 10, 2022.

Steve Helber/AP

Jay Bratt, head of the DOJ’s counterintelligence division, said “there would be nothing of substance”, adding that the government is “very concerned about the safety of witnesses” and the impact that the publication of the affidavit might have on other witnesses.

“It doesn’t serve the interest of the media to give them something that doesn’t make sense,” Bratt said.

Bratt argued that the document contained information that could easily identify witnesses based on descriptions of events that only certain people would know about.

Reinhart said in a Monday filing that he may ultimately side with the government.

“I can’t say at this point that the partial redactions will be so significant that they result in meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately come to that conclusion after hearing more from the government,” he said.

Justice Reinhart says he believes the government has discharged “its burden of showing good cause/compelling interest which outweighs any public interest in releasing the full contents of the affidavit”.

PHOTO: A police car is seen outside the residence of former US President Donald Trump in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, August 8, 2022.

A police car is seen outside former US President Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, August 8, 2022.

Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

It was thought that the Justice Department would likely seek to appeal immediately any ruling that disclosed parts of the affidavit that it is not comfortable releasing.

While former President Trump and his allies have publicly called for the release of the full affidavit, his legal team has made no such effort in court since the August 8 search, including as part of their motion filed Monday before a separate federal judge calling for the appointment of a special captain to review documents seized by the FBI.

Instead, Trump’s attorneys have asked federal judge Aileen Cannon to issue an order directing investigators to suspend their review of documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago pending the appointment of a special master, to return all personal material scanned during the search and provide a more detailed receipt of seized items.

The filing, which was riddled with lies, misrepresentations and blatant references to a possible announcement of Trump’s plans to run for president again in 2024, appeared to be confused by Judge Cannon.

On Tuesday, Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee, issued an order asking Trump’s team to file an additional brief by Friday with a list of background information not included in their original motion.

ABC News

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