Judge who issued FBI raid warrant on Mar-a-Lago rules DOJ must respond to suit seeking to unseal it

Judicial Watch filed the motion on Tuesday

Updated: August 10, 2022 - 7:24pm

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The Department of Justice must respond to a motion from Judicial Watch seeking to unseal the warrant the FBI obtained to raid former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, a magistrate ruled on Wednesday.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who also approved the warrant, issued the order, saying “[o]n or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on August 15, 2022, the Government shall file a Response to the Motion to Unseal."

“The response may be filed ex parte and under seal as necessary to avoid disclosing matters already under seal. In that event, the Government shall file a redacted Response in the public record. If it chooses, the Government may file a consolidated Response to all Motions to Seal,” Reinhart ruled, according to court documents Just the News obtained.

The same Judge Reinhart, just six weeks prior to approving the search warrant, had recused himself from former President Trump's lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others over the Russia collusion scandal, saying that he had concerns that he could not be impartial. 

Judicial Watch filed the motion on Tuesday, asserting "[t]he public has an urgent and substantial interest in understanding the predicate for the execution of the unprecedented search warrant of the private residence of a former president and likely future political opponent."

FBI agents with the Washington Field Office on Monday raided the former president's estate reportedly in search of classified documents he may have taken from the White House. The same field office has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over whistleblower allegations that former Washington Field Office Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault showed political bias in his handling of evidence related to Trump and President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

Republicans have resoundingly demanded that the Department of Justice explain the raid or risk losing public trust. Grassley responded to the raid, saying “[t]he Justice Department as a whole bears responsibility in upholding the public trust, and in a matter so consequential to our democratic process, Attorney General Garland also owes the American people full transparency."