The judge who approved the unprecedented FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home has rejected the Department of Justice’s argument for keeping the underlying affidavit secret, saying there is an intense “public interest” in transparency.
Judge Bruce Reinhart said he did not agree with the DOJ that the affidavit should remain completely sealed, Fox News reported.
The DOJ has argued that sharing the affidavit, even with redactions, would compromise its investigation and endanger witnesses.
Judge Reinhart said that these concerns have some merit, but the “unprecedented” nature of the case has to be considered, too. He has given the DOJ until Thursday to make redactions.
“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing,” he wrote in a filing.
Trump has called for full transparency into the raid, which he and his allies have blasted as an act of blatant political persecution by Trump’s rival Joe Biden. The case to unseal the affidavit was brought by various news media organizations.
“In the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN,” Trump wrote in a social media post.
Trump blasts effort to “thwart” him
President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday over the raid, which his lawyers called a fishing expedition aimed at thwarting Trump’s political ambitions.
They accused the Biden administration of “simply wanting the camel’s nose under the tent so they could rummage for either politically helpful documents or support efforts to thwart President Trump from running again.”
While Trump is said to have had “classified” documents, the details of the raid and the government’s rationale for it remain a mystery. The affidavit could help clarify the DOJ’s justification.
Still, Reinhart has acknowledged that what is left after redactions might not be very interesting.
“I cannot say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing further from the Government,” he wrote.