Justice Department opposes unsealing Trump FBI raid warrant affidavit

The DOJ supported the release of the warrant, government lawyers offered no opposition to unsealing other documents connected to the raid

Published: August 15, 2022 5:44pm

Updated: August 15, 2022 7:05pm

A Justice Department lawyer Monday asked Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to keep sealed the affidavit included with the warrant the FBI used to raid former President Donald Trump's Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, last week, arguing its public release would compromise the investigation.

Reinhart is the judge who approved the FBI's warrant for the raid and later ordered the DOJ to respond to a suit seeking the public release of the warrant. While the warrant ultimately became public, the affidavit remains sealed. The DOJ argues that releasing the document would reveal too many details about the investigation and undercut its efforts.

"If disclosed, 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," the Department asserted, according to Spectrum News. "In addition, information about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation."

"Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations," they went on. "The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly."

Republican lawmakers have sought access to documents pertaining to the raid and called on the DOJ to be transparent on the raid, warning that the agency risks losing the American people's trust should it fail to do so.

"If the FBI isn’t extraordinarily transparent about its justification for yesterday’s actions and committed to rooting out political bias that has infected their most sensitive investigations, they will have sealed their own fate," Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the day after the raid.

The DOJ supported the release of the warrant itself and the lawyers offered no opposition to unsealing other documents connected to the raid.

"The government does not object to unsealing other materials filed in connection with the search warrant whose unsealing would not jeopardize the integrity of this national security investigation," the DOJ lawyers concluded in their statement to Reinhart.

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