A redacted version of the affidavit used to secure the search warrant to raid former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence must be filed no later than noon ET on Friday, by order of U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.
Leading the charge for transparency regarding the unprecedented FBI raid on the former — and, all indications are, current — political opponent of the sitting President of the United States has been Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who praised Judge Reinhart’s decision.
“In no small victory for transparency and against government corruption, the court finally granted Judicial Watch’s request and ordered the release of the redacted affidavit used to justify the warrant in the unprecedented raid on the home of former President Trump,” said Fitton in a statement following Reinhart’s ruling.
According to Fitton, the redactions will be telling.
“We expect the redactions to be unnecessary and that they will demonstrate contempt for the American people’s right to know the entire story about the Biden administration’s wild abuse of power,” Fitton stated. “This legal battle for accountability is just getting started.”
“Our public interest, our right to know about this unprecedented, infamous, really dangerous raid — your right to know — outweighs any alleged interest that [the] corrupt Justice Department and FBI have in keeping it secret so they can do their fraud criminal investigation,” Fitton said.
In no small victory for transparency and against government corruption, the court finally granted @JudicialWatch’s request and ordered release of the redacted affidavit used to justify warrant in the unprecedented raid on home of former President Trump. https://t.co/Afy9zvu7FF pic.twitter.com/08ghH9Lq3P
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) August 26, 2022
Judicial Watch, along with a coalition of other news outlets, filed a motion in support of the release of the affidavit, arguing that the “public has a ‘clear and powerful’ interest in understanding the unprecedented investigation in former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified records.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) hit back with a motion of its own, attempting to keep the document sealed from the public, arguing that “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.”
DoJ opposes release of affidavit, willing to release ‘other’ docs, concerns of ‘protecting witnesses’ a joke https://t.co/4BxuqoK9sW
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) August 16, 2022
A previously reported, Judge Reinhart — who signed the search warrant in question — agreed with the media.
“I cannot say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing further from the Government,” Reinhart wrote in his order on motions to unseal. “The Government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the Affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases. I do not need to reach the question of whether, in some other case, these concerns could justify denying public access; they very well might.”
“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence,” he continued, “the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing. I therefore reject the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”
Judge formally rejects DOJ logic to keep affidavit sealed in ‘unprecedented’ FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago https://t.co/i0BpPlsBc9 pic.twitter.com/cMEHhTpSt1
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 22, 2022
On Thursday, after hearing arguments from both sides, Reinhart reviewed the proposed redactions and issued an Order to Unseal.
“I find that the Government has met its burden of showing a compelling reason/good cause to seal portions of the Affidavit because disclosure would reveal (1)the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties, (2) the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and (3) grand jury information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e),” Reinhart wrote in his two-page order.
“Based on my independent review of the Affidavit, I further find that the Government has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the Government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit,” he stated.
According to Justice Department Spokesman Anthony Coley, the DOJ has nothing more to say on the matter at this time.
“The United States has filed a submission under seal per the Court’s order of Aug. 22,” he told CNN. “The Justice Department respectfully declines further comment as the Court considers the matter.”
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