The judge who approved the search warrant used by the FBI to raid President Donald Trump’s Florida residence issued an order on Thursday that should lead to the release of a redacted copy of the affidavit supporting the application for the warrant.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart gave the Justice Department until noon on August 25 to submit to the court the redactions it proposes. The Thursday hearing was conducted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida at West Palm Beach.
The Justice Department argued at the hearing that releasing even a redacted version of the affidavit would provide a “roadmap” for its investigation of Trump. It also said that keeping the document under seal is necessary to “protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security.”
Nice victory for @JudicialWatch: Court rejects outright Biden DOJ position to keep fully sealed the affidavit it used to justify the shady raid on Trump's home. At least some information, court says, will be ordered released.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) August 18, 2022
Reinhart also ordered that the application for the search warrant and the motion filed to seal the warrant will be released to the public.
After the DOJ submits its proposed redactions to the affidavit, Reinhart will review the suggestions and determine whether they should be accepted or if he will impose his own redactions. The government or the media will be able to appeal Reinhart’s ruling about final redactions.
U.S. Attorney Jay Bratt argued the case for the DOJ, claiming that because the nation is “in a volatile state,” releasing any names of witnesses or government employees would chill the willingness of other witnesses to testify.
Attorney Charles Tobin represented the media organizations seeking the release of the affidavit. He argued that the public interest in the unprecedented search of a former president’s home “could not be greater.”
Trump was not a direct party in Thursday’s hearing, which was held to address media requests for the release of the affidavit. The former president did issue a statement earlier this week demanding that the affidavit be released without redactions.
According to the warrant, which has been released, the government was permitted to conduct the search as part of an investigation into alleged violations of federal law. The statutes specifically identified involve transmitting or losing defense information, concealing or removing classified documents, and destroying or altering records of federal investigations.
One of the statutes involved is the federal Espionage Act.
Trump’s legal team disputes whether the documents involved were protected by classification or have been declassified.
The FBI seized Trump’s passports and reportedly also removed numerous records facially protected by the attorney-client privilege from disclosure.