The Justice Department filed documentation Monday opposing the proposed release of the affidavit that led a federal judge to issue the search warrant for last week’s unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.
Now a judge has agreed to talk with both sides about the affidavit. Contained in it should be the probable cause and justification for the brazen raid by armed FBI agents on Trump’s residence.
DOJ attorneys said the ongoing investigation “implicates highly classified materials” and needs continued secrecy.
The agency argued that if the government’s affidavit is disclosed, it could “chill future cooperation by witnesses” who may be called on further along in the investigation.
It also said that releasing the affidavit could negatively impact other “high-profile investigations.” The nature of the materials seized, the DOJ argued, makes it critical not to disclose information to the public “prematurely or improperly.”
Following the raid on Trump’s Florida home, Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to immense pressure from lawmakers and the public to unseal the search warrant and property receipt. Trump immediately agreed.
Several media outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post, and NBC News also requested last week that the judge unseal all the documents. The search warrant and property receipt issued after the raid have been released, but the DOJ continues to fight the disclosure of the affidavit.
Media members argued that the “historically significant event” of an FBI raid on a former President’s residence needs light shed on its motivations and underlying evidence.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart agreed to an in-person hearing in Florida Thursday to discuss the matter of the affidavit. He has not made a ruling but will meet with federal officials and the former president’s legal team.
BREAKING: Florida Judge DEFIES Biden-Garland DOJ, holds hearing to UNSEAL Trump raid Affidavit— Regime backfire pic.twitter.com/Fjhxs6dXir
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) August 16, 2022
Trump’s legal team agreed to the release of the search warrant and property receipt, though it does not have access to the DOJ affidavit. Critics of the raid, including several high-profile Republican lawmakers, are pressing the Justice Department to explain its reasoning for the action.
Releasing the affidavit would go far — if it is not too heavily redacted — in showing what justification existed for something that has not been done in the history of the Republic. Or it could prove the existence of a continuing witch hunt.