The legal controversy over the documents connected to the FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home is ongoing. But a judge has announced that “intense public and historical interest” in the FBI affidavit that backed the warrant to search Trump’s home justifies unsealing parts of the affidavit.
However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in Florida issued a written order on Monday that affirmed his findings from a hearing last week that the DOJ had not made a sufficient case to keep the affidavit totally sealed, Bloomberg reported.
Reinhart was the judge who initially approved the search warrant for Trump’s home, but he rejected the DOJ’s arguments to keep the affidavit sealed entirely.
Specifically, he rejected the argument that the process of proposing redactions to the affidavit prior to releasing it would take too much time, Bloomberg reported.
“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing,” the judge wrote in his decision.
“I therefore reject the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal. In its Response, the Government asked that I give it an opportunity to propose redactions if I declined to seal the entire Affidavit. I granted that request and gave the Government a deadline of noon on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022,” Reinhart added.
While Reinhart’s decision goes against the DOJ’s requests to keep the document sealed, this move favors the request from several media companies to unseal the affidavit.
CNN, the Washington Post, NBC News and Scripps filed a request for documents connected to the FBI’s search at Trump’s home to be unsealed, CNN reported.
The media outlets asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to entirely unseal the record filed with the court, which included the affidavit filed to support the search warrant.
“Before the events of this week, not since the Nixon Administration had the federal government wielded its power to seize records from a former President in such a public fashion,” the media outlets’ filing read.
“Because of the historic importance of these events” the numerous media companies wanted the entirety of the affidavit unsealed.
But while Reinhart’s decision goes against the DOJ’s request for the documents to remain sealed, it also did not fully grant the request from the media outlets since the judge is allowing the government to redact parts of the document.
Reinhart did expand upon his reason for not fully unsealing the affidavit, though.
He cited the need to protect the identities of agents and witnesses as part of the reason for not completely unsealing the document, unredacted.
“Given the public notoriety and controversy about this search, it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the Affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Reinhart’s decision outlined.
Trump himself, though, has also publicly announced that he would like the documents and affidavit unsealed.
“[I]n the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN,” Trump posted on Truth Social on Monday.
Reinhart added in his decision that there is still a lot of speculation surrounding the raid, documents and events that the government has yet to confirm.
“Much of the information being discussed is based on anonymous sources, speculation or hearsay; the government has not confirmed its accuracy,” Reinhart wrote.
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