Judge says he's inclined to unseal portions of Mar-a-Lago search affidavit, orders government to submit redactions

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  gregtx  •  one month ago  •  35 comments

By:   Marc Caputo, Dareh Gregorian and Rebecca Shabad (NBC News)

Judge says he's inclined to unseal portions of Mar-a-Lago search affidavit, orders government to submit redactions
A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to unseal parts of the probable cause affidavit used to secure a search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



WEST PALM BEACH — A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to unseal at least some of the probable cause affidavit used to secure a search of former President Donald Trump's Florida estate.

"On my initial careful review ... there are portions of it that can be unsealed," Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said after a hearing where a top government lawyer contended the document's release could jeopardize an investigation that is still in its "early stages."

Reinhart said he would "give the government a full and fair opportunity" to make redactions to the document, and ordered them to turn in the redacted version by next Thursday. He said he would then review the document and either order its release if he agrees with the redaction or hold a closed-door hearing with the government if he disagrees.

The judge added that if they can't agree, "obviously I'd win" that argument, but he'd allow the government time to appeal his ruling.

During a hearing that lasted just over an hour, Jay Bratt, a top counterintelligence and national security official at DOJ, argued the "detailed and reasonably lengthy" document needed to be kept completely under wraps because it contains "substantial grand jury" information in a "unique" case with "national security overtones."

He also said the government is "very concerned about the safety of the witnesses" in the case whose identities could become compromised if the affidavit is unsealed. Bratt pointed to "amateur sleuths on the internet" who could "maybe find personal information." He noted that FBI agents involved in the search have been doxxed online, and noted last week's nail gun attack at a Cincinnati FBI building by a Trump supporter who was outraged by the search.

"This is a volatile situation with respect to this particular search across the political spectrum," Bratt said, adding with "one side in particular."

Charles Tobin, one of the lawyers for the media organizations arguing for the document to be unsealed, said a search warrant being executed at a former president's home is a matter of a tremendous public interest and the affidavit should be unsealed. He called it "one of the most significant law enforcement events in the nation's history."

"The time for everybody to get it right is now," Tobin said.

James Moon, a lawyer for the conservative group Judicial Watch, said the government could black out portions of the document. "I don't think anybody is asking the floodgates be opened," he said.

Trump lawyer Christina Bobb also was in court for the proceedings but did not make any arguments.

Reinhart scheduled the hearing Tuesday after the Department of Justice had informed him that while it didn't oppose unsealing some innocuous documents related to the warrant, it was vehemently opposed to the affidavit being made public.

Lawyers for the department said the release of the document, which lays out the evidence of possible crimes that were the basis for the search warrant request, could "cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation."

"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," they wrote, warning it could also impact cooperation from witnesses.

Trump and his lawyers have publicly called for the affidavit to be unsealed for the sake of "transparency," but did not file any court papers arguing for its release.

The hearing was granted after a group of news organizations, including NBC News, filed court papers asking Reinhart to publicly release the affidavit, citing the "historically significant, unprecedented execution of a search warrant in the residence of a former president."

"[N]ot since the Nixon administration had the federal government wielded its power to seize records from a former president in such a public fashion," the filing said, arguing that "'clear and powerful interest' in understanding these unprecedented events 'weighs heavily in favor of unsealing' the entire record filed with this court."

The FBI executed the search warrant on Trump's Mar-a-Lago property on Aug. 8. A copy of the search warrant and a property receipt unsealed by Reinhart at the government's request Friday showed agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some labeled secret and top secret.

A document attached to the search warrant said agents were searching for "physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime and other items illegally possessed in violation of" three laws, including a part of the Espionage Act. The section cited in the search warrant "applies to activities such as gathering, transmitting to an unauthorized person, or losing, information pertaining to the national defense, and to conspiracies to commit such offenses," according to the DOJ's website.

Investigators were still sifting through the documents on Wednesday, sources told NBC News.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.


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GregTx
Junior Participates
1  seeder  GregTx    one month ago
"[N]ot since the Nixon administration had the federal government wielded its power to seize records from a former president in such a public fashion," the filing said, arguing that "'clear and powerful interest' in understanding these unprecedented events 'weighs heavily in favor of unsealing' the entire record filed with this court."
 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2  Hallux    one month ago

The 'fun' part of the 'game':

"Trump and his lawyers have publicly called for the affidavit to be unsealed for the sake of "transparency," but did not file any court papers arguing for its release."

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.1  squiggy  replied to  Hallux @2    one month ago

They took Garland at his word - advocating 'transparency', just not too much, eh?

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.1    one month ago
They took Garland at his word - advocating 'transparency', just not too much, eh?

If by 'they' you mean Trump and his lawyers, that's a delusional comment. 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.1.2  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Dulay @2.1.1    one month ago

Exactly, why would anybody take the FBI or DoJ at their word?

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Dulay  replied to  GregTx @2.1.2    one month ago

So, I gather that means you don't back the blue Greg. 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.1.4  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Dulay @2.1.3    one month ago

Why would you think that?

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.5  Dulay  replied to  GregTx @2.1.4    one month ago

You imply that you do not take the DOJ or the FBI at their word Greg. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1.6  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dulay @2.1.5    one month ago
You imply that you do not take the DOJ or the FBI at their word Greg. 

I don't want to imply. I'll say it openly: the FBI has been politicized and weaponized. As for the DOJ, they should have called for a special counsel investigation in this case and the Hunter Biden case. And let us not forget that Garland has broken with the Justice Department practice of not commenting on pending investigations. He made a statement last week, remember?  He claimed that the Justice Department routinely uses the evidence-collection method that is least intrusive under the circumstances, and that its searches are narrowly tailored to collect relevant evidence.  That would be the opposite of the intrusion into a former President's home with a warrant that was so broad as to allow the FBI to collect every single scrap of paper.

And that is why many people no longer trust the FBI or Merrick Garland.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.7  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1.6    one month ago
I'll say it openly: the FBI has been politicized and weaponized.

Great? Now Vic, all you have to do is admit that it has been since its inception. Of course, much of that time, it was used against 'the left', so it got a pass from you and yours. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, y'all want to pretend it's a resent thing that must be exposed and stopped. 

As for the DOJ, they should have called for a special counsel investigation in this case and the Hunter Biden case.

Why? 

And let us not forget that Garland has broken with the Justice Department practice of not commenting on pending investigations. He made a statement last week, remember?  

Vic, let's not forget that YOU posted a seed that included the FACT that the Judge ORDERED the DOJ to reply to media's, [including one of your favorites, Judicial Watch], demands to release of the warrant ect. THAT is what Garland commented on. 

Major FAIL. 

He claimed that the Justice Department routinely uses the evidence-collection method that is least intrusive under the circumstances, and that its searches are narrowly tailored to collect relevant evidence.  That would be the opposite of the intrusion into a former President's home with a warrant that was so broad as to allow the FBI to collect every single scrap of paper.

The DOJ had already run the gamut of 'less intrusive methods' Vic. They informally asked nicely. They FORMALLY asked nicely. They sent their top dude to ask nicely AGAIN. They issued a subpoena. 

As proven by the content of the inventory seized, it's obvious to any thinking person that Trump still insisted that he is somehow a special snowflake who isn't governed by the rule of law. 

That would be the opposite of the intrusion into a former President's home with a warrant that was so broad as to allow the FBI to collect every single scrap of paper.

That's false Vic. Rinsing and repeating that falsehood fails to make it true. Just stop. 

And that is why many people no longer trust the FBI or Merrick Garland.

Then 'many people's' lack of trust is based on bullshit. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.1.8  devangelical  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1.6    one month ago

it's important to note that trumpski is the one that alerted the media to the FBI search of mar-a-lardo.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2  Dulay  replied to  Hallux @2    one month ago

Interestingly, Trump and his lawyers haven't filed a wrongful search suit either. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.2.1  Hallux  replied to  Dulay @2.2    one month ago

His 'lawyers' in this case are looking for lawyers of their own.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.2  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2    one month ago

... nor have they filed to block release.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.3  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.2    one month ago
... nor have they filed to block release.

My comment had nothing to do with releasing anything. Try to keep up. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
2.2.4  Hallux  replied to  squiggy @2.2.2    one month ago
... nor have they filed to block release.

File that under playing both sides of the coin in a shell game.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.5  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.3    one month ago

“My comment had nothing to do with releasing anything.”

It didn’t have much relevance to the topic either. Let us know if they buy a goat this week.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.6  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.5    one month ago
It didn’t have much relevance to the topic either.

Your inability to recognize it's relevance is on your squiggy. 

Let us know if they buy a goat this week.

Let ME know when you'd like to adult. 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.7  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.6    one month ago
"...is on your squiggy." 

You've never seen my squiggy.

     "...when you'd like to adult." 

When I do, it'll be in English.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.8  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.7    one month ago
You've never seen my squiggy.

No interest in doing so. 

When I do, it'll be in English.

Thanks for admitting you've yet to do so. 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.9  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.8    one month ago
Thanks for admitting you've yet to do so.

... a false substitution of past for future.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.10  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.9    one month ago
... a false substitution of past for future.

There is no historical evidence of that in your comments. 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.11  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.10    one month ago

”…that…”

Unintelligible reference.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.12  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.11    one month ago

Well, it's YOUR reference, so there you go. 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.13  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.12    one month ago
_v=63f541639668518
2.2.10   Dulay   replied to  squiggy @ 2.2.9     22 hours ago
... a false substitution of past for future.

There is no historical evidence of that in your comments. 

 
   REPLY   Your reference.
 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.14  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.13    one month ago

WTF are you babbling about? 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.15  squiggy  replied to  Dulay @2.2.14    one month ago

"WTF are you babbling about?"

Try to keep up. 

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.2.16  Dulay  replied to  squiggy @2.2.15    one month ago

With babbling? Why bother? 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
2.3  seeder  GregTx  replied to  Hallux @2    one month ago

My understanding is that they have called for the release of the affidavit in its entirety, not redacted. That's not gonna happen.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    one month ago

This legal decision is a yawner. 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
3.1  seeder  GregTx  replied to  JohnRussell @3    one month ago

How so?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  GregTx @3.1    one month ago

The affidavit is not going to prove Trump was treated unfairly , nor will a redacted version prove the true extent of the investigation. 

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
3.1.2  seeder  GregTx  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.1    one month ago

Perhaps, we won't really know till it's released. But I don't think that's what this is really about, otherwise Trump's team would have filed to have it released in full. In my opinion this is about trying to calm the bubbling waters of public opinion.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
4  Greg Jones    one month ago

After Biden's DOJ made this daylight raid by the FBI such a media event in order to embarrass and harass Trump, the people want answers as to why this unprecedented seizure required such urgent action at this time. Every day that passes with no transparency seems to show this is just partisan political theater

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
4.1  Dulay  replied to  Greg Jones @4    one month ago
After Biden's DOJ made this daylight raid by the FBI such a media event in order to embarrass and harass Trump, the people want answers as to why this unprecedented seizure required such urgent action at this time.

Trump is the one that made it a 'media event'. 

Every day that passes with no transparency seems to show this is just partisan political theater

Right, because the documents seized are fake news. /s

 
 

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