On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a proposal in federal Court detailing redactions it wishes to be made to an affidavit to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the FBI search warrant and is overseeing the case, ordered the Justice Department to release a redacted version of the affidavit he reviewed before noon on Friday.
Despite the DOJ’s concern that full public disclosure of the affidavit could pose a risk to FBI agents or witnesses or undermine a criminal investigation in progress, the DOJ’s proposal remains under seal for now by court order expected to suggest an extensive blackout of portions of the affidavit.
The judge said in a two-page ruling that the federal government’s proposed redactions were specifically limited to keeping secret grand jury information, identities of uncharged individuals, and sources and methods used in a criminal investigation – and the rest could be made public.
A DOJ investigation is underway into removing hundreds of pages of documents from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021. By law, presidential records must be kept by the National Archives and Records Administration (NACRA).
It has been reported in court documents that the DOJ is investigating possible evidence of espionage and obstruction of justice. Frequently, the FBI and prosecutors provide evidence they expect to find at the location where the search warrant will be executed in an affidavit that supports the warrant application.
FBI agents seized approximately a dozen boxes of material during the raid on Mar-a-Lago. According to court records, top-secret material was included in the documents seized. According to a DOJ statement Thursday, the United States has filed a submission under seal in response to the Court’s order of Aug. 22. According to him, the Justice Department respectfully declines to comment further while the Court considers the case.
After the proposal was filed, a group of media companies filed a new motion requesting that the judge unseal portions of the DOJ’s legal brief.
According to the media groups’ motion, a presumption of public access applies to the Brief and the search warrant affidavit itself. An unprecedented search of a former president’s residence is of intense public and historical interest, which the Court has already acknowledged. The motion stated that it is up to the government to prove that a sufficiently important interest in secrecy justifies sealing.
Reinhart concluded that the government had met its burden to demonstrate its redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in preserving the integrity of the ongoing investigation.