PanaTimes

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

Judge orders DoJ to prepare redacted Trump search affidavit for possible release

Judge orders DoJ to prepare redacted Trump search affidavit for possible release

Justice department opposed release of document but judge said portions of it ‘could be presumptively unsealed’

The justice department must redact the affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search Donald Trump’s resort in Florida in such a way not to jeopardize the investigation in case he decides to unseal the document next week, a federal magistrate judge ordered on Thursday.

The surprise order from Judge Bruce Reinhart charted a middle ground between the justice department’s motion to oppose unsealing any part of the affidavit, and motions from a coalition of media outlets – and calls from the former president – to release the highly sensitive document.

Ruling from the bench, the judge gave the justice department a week to propose redactions to the affidavit, which contains the probable cause used to justify the extraordinary search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort over his unauthorized retention of top secret and classified documents.

“I’m not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed,” Reinhart said at a hearing in West Palm Beach.

The judge said his decision was driven in part because it was important that the public have as much information as it could, though he conceded that the extensive redactions that are expected from the justice department could render the document essentially meaningless.

Reinhart’s ruling came after the justice department disclosed for the first time that the criminal investigation surrounding the FBI’s seizure of classified and top secret documents from Mar-a-Lago – in potential violation of the Espionage Act – was still in its early stages.

The justice department, represented in court by Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence section, argued against the release of any portion of the affidavit, saying it would reveal a roadmap of the investigation and chill cooperation from other witnesses who may come forward.

The FBI headquarters in Washington. The justice department is investigating Trump’s retention of classified documents.


Bratt opposed the release of a redacted affidavit since, given it contained significant grand jury information and investigative techniques, the redactions would be so extensive that it would show “nothing of substance”.

The justice department also drew particular attention to the fact that the court had previously found probable cause of a violation of one of the obstruction statutes – with evidence of the obstruction at Mar-a-Lago – and that unsealing the affidavit could risk further obstruction.

But Reinhart said in federal court in Palm Beach, Florida, that he was inclined to release parts of the affidavit. He gave the justice department until next Thursday at noon to propose redactions. “This is going to be a considered, careful process,” the judge said.

Reinhart presided over arguments between the justice department and several media organizations. Trump has said he supports unsealing the affidavit but filed no motion of his own. One of his lawyers, Chrsitina Bobb, nonetheless attended the hearing to watch proceedings on Thursday.

The justice department, however, did support unsealing several ancillary documents that would not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation, including the cover sheet to the search warrant application, and the court’s sealing order – which Reinhart agreed to make public.

Those unsealed documents offered more detail about the case. Notably, the cover sheet showed the department’s descriptions of potential crimes at Mar-a-Lago: wilfull retention of national defense information, concealment or removal of government records, and obstruction of a federal investigation.

In February, the US National Archives confirmed that officials found classified materials in 15 boxes of documents Trump improperly removed from the White House in violation of the 1978 Presidential Records Act. It said it recovered the boxes, and reported its findings to the justice department.

The Washington Post reported last week that FBI agents were looking for highly secret documents relating to nuclear weapons during the raid. In a rare public statement, Garland said he had personally authorized the decision to seek the warrant.

Trump, who is considering another presidential run in 2024, has sought to politicize the search of Mar-a-Lago, claiming without evidence that it is part of a wider conspiracy by Democrats to prevent him returning to the White House.

Trump supporters have seized on the FBI search as an attack on the former president.


Numerous senior Republicans raced to echo his allegation of a witch-hunt, attacking Garland and the justice department, and with some rightwing allies and extremists including congress members Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert calling for the FBI to be defunded.

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, promised a House inquiry into Garland if Republicans win back control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections, warning the attorney general in a tweet to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar”.

Also yesterday, the New York Times reported that the justice department sent a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives in May for all the documents it had supplied to the January 6 House committee, further deepening Trump’s legal peril.

And in federal court in New York, Allen Weisselberg, former chief executive officer of the Trump Organization, pleaded guilty to 15 charges of tax fraud. Trump sat for a deposition in a parallel civil investigation in New York into allegations the company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values and invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

Additionally, the former president faces legal peril in Georgia, where a grand jury is investigating efforts to reverse Biden’s narrow win in the key swing state.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
U.S. added 517,000 jobs in January, snapping five-month string of slowing employment growth
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
×