A US judge has granted a request to partially unseal an affidavit supporting Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar a Lago raid at his Florida home by the F.B.I.
Redacted F.B.I. search affidavit could be out by Friday
Florida judge Bruce Reinhart’s order appears to have been issued on Thursday, just hours after a Justice Department spokesman confirmed that prosecutors had submitted to the judge a sealed copy of their affidavit with proposed redactions. The redacted version of the affidavit could be released as early as Friday this week.
“It is ordered that: 1. The Intervenors’ Motion to Unseal [E.C.F. No. 4] is granted in part. 2. On or before noon Eastern time on Friday, August 26, 2022, the Government shall file in the public docket a version of the Affidavit containing the redactions proposed in E.C.F. No. 89-1,” the order said.
“The Justice Department had valid reasons to keep some of the document secret, including the need to protect the identities of witnesses and federal agents, as well as the government’s investigation and strategy and grand jury material,” Reinhart said.
The U.S. Department of Justice has claimed that releasing the affidavit would jeopardize the ongoing investigation by revealing information about witnesses and potential next steps for investigators and prosecutors. According to Al Jazeera, the former president also asked social media platforms to unseal the affidavit, despite the fact that his lawyers had not yet weighed in on the matter.
What exactly happened at Mar-a-Lago?
The F.B.I. raided Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month on August 8, used a search warrant that listed potential violations of the Espionage Act involving mishandling of classified materials as a reason for the raid.
Former President Donald Trump has condemned the raid as a weaponization of the U.S. justice system against him and claims to have properly stored and declassified sensitive materials kept at Mar-a-Lago, labelling the F.B.I.’s actions as “prosecutorial misconduct” and “unnecessary.”
During the search, the F.B.I. seized 11 sets of classified records, including some marked as top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
The former President said in a statement on August 8 that F.B.I. agents were at Mar-a-Lago and said “they even broke into my safe.” He was at Trump Tower in New York when the search warrant was executed in Florida, a person familiar said. “My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of F.B.I. agents,” Trump said in a statement on Monday evening.
The National Archives retrieved over 150 classified materials earlier this year in January, sparking the criminal investigation that led F.B.I. agents to raid the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate this month in search of more.
According to people familiar with the matter, the first batch of documents were returned in January, another set was provided by Trump’s aides to the Justice Department in June, and the material seized by the F.B.I. in the search this month.
Former President Donald, wishing to stop the F.B.I. prying into the documents, requested the appointment of a Special Master to review the evidence seized during a raid, and a more detailed receipt of seized property was provided.