The document remains sealed and it is unclear whether the judge will make it public or whether the redacted version would reveal illuminating details about the high-profile investigation.
The affidavit likely contains key information about the investigation into classified documents that were kept at Trump’s residence and private compound in Mar-a-Lago after he left, including why FBI agents suspect crimes have been committed. Justice Department lawyers argued in court last week that making the affidavit public could compromise the safety of witnesses and undermine an investigation that is still in its “early stages”.
Still, Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart — who read the entire affidavit and signed the FBI’s search warrant request earlier this month — said on the bench last week that he believed parts of the document could be made public without hindrance. investigation.
He gave the Justice Department until noon Thursday to offer a redacted version of the affidavit that he said could be made public without revealing details that could hamper the investigation or harm witnesses. Reinhart will now decide whether this proposed version should be made public, kept sealed – or contains too many or too few deletions.
“I’m not prepared to find that the affidavit should be entirely sealed,” Reinhart said last week in a West Palm Beach courtroom. “I believe, based on my initial careful review of the affidavit several times, that there are portions that could be preemptively unsealed.”
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The affidavit has become another flashpoint in a criminal investigation examining documents from the White House at the end of Trump’s term last year. On August 8, FBI agents executed a search warrant in the Palm Beach estate, removing about 20 boxes containing what authorities said were highly classified national secrets.
Law enforcement officials submit these documents to a judge as part of their search warrant application. Affidavits usually contain information explaining why the authorities believe there is evidence on a certain property and other details about their investigation.
In unredacted form, it would provide the most comprehensive rationale for why the government pushed to search Trump’s property — and what investigative steps it took beforehand. This would show who the government had interviewed, what they believed to be potentially at the scene, and why they believed there was probable cause that crimes had been committed.
Several media outlets, including the Washington Post, called on the judge to unseal all court documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. Attorney General Merrick Garland asked Reinhart to unseal the warrant and an inventory list that includes vague descriptions of classified documents, federal agents say they recovered from Mar-a-Lago, but objected to the release of the affidavit.
Trump’s position on releasing the affidavit is unclear. He publicly called for the release of the full document while denouncing the investigation – which originated in a dispute with the National Archives – as politically motivated. But his attorneys have not filed a motion in court asking to either unseal the affidavit or keep it sealed.