Ordinary Americans and news organizations are demanding to know the reasons behind last week’s FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s home in South Florida’s Mar-a-Lago Club, but President Joe Biden’s Justice Department wants to prevent the public from reading the documents that triggered the action, according to a court filing.
Multiple media outlets have sought to obtain the sworn affidavit that would explain the legal basis for the search.
However, the Justice Department argues that sharing the information could imperil an ongoing investigation.
Republicans in Congress aren’t happy about that.
I’ve demanded an immediate investigation into the raid of President Donald Trump’s residence.
I won’t stop until there’s full transparency and accountability. https://t.co/8Jin4DyyvO
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) August 15, 2022
The court filing from U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said the Justice Department has already shared the information the American people need to know and will share other information it believes will not impact its investigation.
However, it drew a line in the sand when it came to the affidavit — the document that describes what made the raid supposedly necessary in the first place.
“Disclosure at this juncture of the affidavit supporting probable cause would, by contrast, cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation,” the filing argued.
“As the Court is aware from its review of the affidavit, it contains, among other critically important and detailed investigative facts: highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law to be kept under seal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e),” the filing said.
The Biden DOJ doesn’t want its affidavit justifying the Mar-a-Lago raid be released to the public, but it does not hesitate to leak daily to its willing stenographers in the mainstream media. This way only its side of the story gets out. Some “transparency.” Some “rule of law.”
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) August 15, 2022
The filing claimed that making the reason for the raid public could cripple its investigation.
“If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” it said.
Making the document public would also disclose the names of witnesses, the filing said.
“In addition, information about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation,” the filing argued.
“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 fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly,” the filing claimed.
According to Politico, the decision on making the affidavit public rests with federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart. But the DOJ is clearly not willing to release information, no matter what Reinhart decides.
The Justice Department’s motion states outright that if it is forced to make the document public, it will not be done without “redactions that would be so extensive as to render the document devoid of content that would meaningfully enhance the public’s understanding of these events beyond the information already now in the public record.”
“There is simply no alternative to sealing that could ensure the integrity of the government’s investigation and that would prevent the inevitable efforts to read between the lines and discern the identities of certain individuals, dates, or other critical, case-specific information,” the motion claims.
The Justice Department argument does not seem to square well with the Biden administration’s early promises of transparency to the American public.
In January 2021, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki used her debut news conference to pledge a free flow of information from the administration to the public, as Reuters reported at the time.
Biden, Psaki said, would “bring transparency and truth back to the government to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.”
After vowing complete transparency, AG Garland asks judge to keep affidavits sealed on Mar-a-Lago warrant.
Does that look like transparency to you? It makes this Old Man wonder what he is hiding.https://t.co/TaJxEtvwTI
— Old Man With A Pen (@ConservativeAd5) August 15, 2022
Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the release of the affidavit is important because “at least that would confirm that there was justification for this raid.”
Prosecutors need to “show that this was not just a fishing expedition, that they had due cause to go in and to do this, that they did exhaust all other means,” Rounds said.
“And if they can’t do that, then we’ve got a serious problem on our hands. If they are able to do that and to come forward they should do that as quickly as they can,” he said.
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