Feds oppose unsealing affidavit for Mar-a-Lago warrant


WASHINGTON | The Justice Department on Monday rebuffed efforts to make public the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida, saying the investigation “implicates highly classified material” and the document contains sensitive information about witnesses.

The government’s opposition came in response to court filings by several news organizations, including The Associated Press, seeking to unseal the underlying affidavit the Justice Department submitted when it asked for the warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month.

Trump, in a Truth Social post early Tuesday, called for the release of the unredacted affidavit in the interest of transparency.

The court filing — from Juan Antonio Gonzalez, the U.S. attorney in Miami, and Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department national security official — argues that making the affidavit public would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.”

The document, the prosecutors say, details “highly sensitive information about witnesses,” including people who have been interviewed by the government, and contains confidential grand jury information.

The government told a federal magistrate judge that prosecutors believe some additional records, including the cover sheet for the warrant and the government’s request to seal the documents, should now be made public.

A property receipt unsealed Friday showed the FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents, with some not only marked top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

The Justice Department acknowledged Monday that its ongoing criminal investigation “implicates highly classified material.”

The search warrant, also unsealed Friday, said federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant, carried out last Monday, was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation or an attempt to prosecute the former president. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information, with both criminal and civil penalties, as well as presidential records.

But the Justice Department, in its filing Monday, argued that its investigation is active and ongoing and that releasing additional information could not only compromise the probe but also subject witnesses to threats or deter others from coming forward to cooperate with prosecutors.

“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 government wrote in the court filing.


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1 month ago

Just redact it

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

You can’t just “redact” it. Affidavits often make it possible to determine the names of cooperating witnesses from the very facts that support the warrant.

Why shouldn’t the law apply to Trump? Why should we start making exceptions for this crook?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

What the Justice Department is claiming is both correct and typical, but the trumpers will claim that the Department is trying to hide something. I believe we should let this entire scenario play out without judgment on EITHER side, until the investigation is complete, as should always be the case. All will be revealed in its due time if we just allow the process to be followed. At that time, we will know if there is cause for an indictment or not, and if so, then the matter will be in the hands of the courts, which is where every citizen has the right to plead his case under our constitutional system of jurisprudence. This is one of those cases that should not be argued in court of public opinion or the media. It is what it is and will be what it will be.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago

Affidavits for search warrants often contain information that describes the investigation and identifies those cooperating with law enforcement. They are never disclosed until charges are actually filed.

This is typical Trump – he wants the investigation stopped to save his own butt. He wants to be able to unleash his horde of thugs to destroy any attempt to hold him accountable. Look at what his minions have done to honest people trying to conduct lawful elections. Election workers are quitting those jobs due to threats and intimidation from the Trumpalos who refuse to accept election results. Imagine what they’ll do to those who try to enforce the law or cooperate with authorities.