The US Department of Justice stated in court documents earlier this week that it is opposed to the release of the FBI affidavit used to justify the search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Prosecutors said in Monday’s filing that the affidavit contained sensitive information about the testimony of witnesses in the investigation and that releasing the requested documents would “chill” the future testimony of other potential witnesses.
DOJ says affidavit should be kept sealed to “protect integrity of of an ongoing investigation”
While the Justice Department did not object to the release of the search warrant last week, it argued on Monday in a court filing to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida that the affidavit should be kept sealed in order to “protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security.”
The final decision on whether the affidavit should be unsealed or not, will be made by a judge. The search warrant was unsealed on Friday, which revealed that federal investigators are investigating former president Donald Trump for violations of laws put in place regarding the removal or destruction of official records, obstruction of an investigation, and a provision of the Espionage Act relating to gathering, transmitting, or losing defence information.
The FBI, while executing the search warrant last week, seized 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, with some labelled not only “top secret” but also “sensitive compartmented information,” which is a special category meant to protect the country’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to the interests of the United States.
Former President Trump was extremely critical of of this move by the FBI, and called the raid unnecessary, labelling it as “prosecutorial misconduct.”
DOJ filed motion to unseal warrant last week
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that the Justice Department has filed a motion to unseal some parts of the search warrant used in the FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday last week.
Prosecutors argued in the motion, that “the public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favour of unsealing.” However, the former president should be given an opportunity to respond to this motion and file objections, including any ‘legitimate privacy interests’ or the potential for other ‘injury’ if these materials are made public.”
The motion was filed “in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the significant public interest in this matter.”
Merrick Garland stated in his first public comments on the search, which drew harsh criticism from Trump and his allies, that he personally approved the warrant. “The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” said the United States Attorney General in a statement.