A federal judge, in a surprise decision Thursday, indicated he was willing to release portions of the affidavit that justified an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida, ordering the Justice Department to submit writing proposals next week.
US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed the warrant allowing the FBI to enter Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, heard arguments about whether key documents should be released following the the search.
Release of the affidavit, which has been requested by a number of media outlets, would likely reveal details about the circumstances of the investigation, including why law enforcement requested a search warrant for Trump’s home. in Florida and the evidence that gave them a probable reason to do so.
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The judge appeared to strike a compromise Thursday between the wishes of the media and the Justice Department, asking the DOJ to submit the proposed redactions by noon Aug. 25. He then approved the release of a handful of other documents to which the Justice Department had given its blessing earlier this week, including the warrant cover sheet, which described three possible crimes: the deliberate withholding of national defense information, concealing or suppressing government records, and obstructing a federal investigation.
On Monday, the Justice Department asked the Florida judge not to release the affidavit, arguing in court filings that some of the contents of the affidavit could “alter the trajectory of the investigation, reveal the efforts of ongoing and future investigation and undermine officers’ ability to gather evidence or obtain truthful testimony.” The agency also warned that releasing the documents could have “devastating consequences” for the “reputations and rights” of the individuals described therein.
Meanwhile, Trump earlier this week called for the affidavit to be released in the ‘interests of TRANSPARENCY’, although he added in the post on his social media platform that there was no no way to justify the “RAID of Mar-a-Lago”.
Republican lawmakers have insisted that the judge also release the affidavit, continuing to point the finger at the Justice Department for what they say is a lack of transparency while stifling earlier rebukes from the FBI after quickly taking the side. of the former president when he first announced that the agency had searched his estate and claimed the move was politically motivated. In the days that followed, talk of the war intensified in some far-right circles and a gunman approached an FBI office in Ohio and exchanged gunfire with the forces. of order, as the agency reported growing threats to its agents and offices.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said during a speech at a political event in New Hampshire on Thursday that Republicans can hold the Justice Department and the FBI accountable “without attacking law enforcement.” grassroots,” while warning that calls within the party for “Defunding the FBI are just as false as calls for defunding the police.”
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” Pence said. “Our party stands with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line at the federal, state and local levels. And these attacks on the FBI must stop.
Last week, a federal judge released court documents revealing the FBI took 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s estate in Florida after the Justice Department requested the documents be made public. In Monday’s court documents, the Justice Department explained that it had “determined that these documents could be disclosed without materially harming its investigation because the search had already been executed and publicly acknowledged by the former president, and because the documents had already been provided to the former president through a lawyer.
“Disclosure at this stage of the affidavit supporting probable cause would, in contrast, cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation,” the court filing said.
Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters he agreed with the Justice Department’s concerns about releasing the affidavit, but suggested the political environment could make it difficult to adhere to usual Justice Department protocol, while dismissing Trump’s claim that a partisan motive existed within the FBI. look for.
“It probably shouldn’t be released and I think the DOJ is right,” Bolton said in an interview with Reuters. “And I think Trump actually knows that they don’t want it released, which is why it’s easy for him to ask for it to be released because he knows it’s not going to happen.”