US judge orders release of redacted Mar-a-Lago affidavit
Washington, Aug 26 (IANS/WISHAVWARTA) A US judge has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release a redacted version of the affidavit used to seek the search warrant on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“I find that the government has met its burden of showing a compelling reason/good cause to seal portions of the affidavit,” Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Florida Bruce Reinhart wrote in the latest court order on Thursday.
Reinhart gave the DOJ until Friday noon to file in the public docket a version of the affidavit.
It was unclear whether the Department would appeal.
Reinhart issued the order hours after the DOJ said it had filed its proposed redactions to the affidavit.
Multiple US media organizations asked Reinhart to unseal the affidavit, following the release of the warrant that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents executed to search the estate located in Palm Beach earlier this month.
The DOJ has opposed the unsealing of the affidavit, claiming that the move would undermine “an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security”.
The media outlets had argued that the significant public interest in the affidavit justifies disclosing at least part of it.
Trump and many Republicans have denounced what they called a “raid” on Mar-a-Lago and repeatedly lashed out at the FBI and the DOJ.
Speaking on the matter for the first time, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he had “zero” advance notice before the search.
The FBI operation on Mar-a-Lago was part of the DOJ’s investigation into whether Trump had mishandled classified documents.
The unsealed warrant listed three potential criminal violations — concealment or removal of federal records, destruction or alteration of records in a federal investigation, and transmitting defense information.
A “receipt for property” included 33 seized items, including 11 sets of documents described either as “classified/TS/SCI”, “top secret”, “secret” or “confidential”.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claimed all documents taken by FBI agents were declassified.
The former leader said on Monday that his attorneys have demanded the DOJ be instructed to immediately stop the review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.