Judge Orders Release Of Mar-A-Lago Affidavit With Redactions
A Florida judge ordered the Justice Department on Thursday to make public portions of the affidavit utilized by the FBI to search former President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago residence last week.
If the affidavit is released, the probable cause, possible witnesses to a crime and an outline of criminal prosecution will be made public. The redactions are due by noon next Thursday.
“I’m inclined not to seal the entire affidavit,” Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said.
The ruling comes after the Justice Department asked to keep the affidavit sealed to ensure the criminal investigation keeps moving forward properly.
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“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” the Justice Department wrote in a Monday filing.
“The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly.”
They added that it would not serve any public interest to unseal the affidavit.
At the hearing, counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt argued that it would put witnesses in danger if their names were released, especially with the uptick of concerning violence against law enforcement since the search.
“This is a volatile situation,” Bratt said.
Last week, the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence as a part of the Justice Department’s investigation into missing classified documents.
In February, the National Archives called on the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether or not Trump violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires former Presidents to turn in all documents and records from their administration, after locating 15 boxes of classified records at Mar-a-Lago.
After the boxes were recovered in January, Trump said that he no longer had possession of secret documents.
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