Justice Department opposes release of Trump’s FBI search warrant affidavit

The Justice Department said in court papers Monday that it opposes the release of the FBI affidavit used to justify the search warrant in former President Donald Trump’s primary residence at Mar-a-Lago.

In Monday’s filing, prosecutors said the affidavit contained confidential information about the testimony of witnesses in the investigation, adding later that they feared the release of the requested documents would “chill” future testimony from other potential witnesses.

While the Justice Department did not object to the release of the search warrant last week, the department argued Monday in a court filing with the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida that the affidavit it must remain sealed “to protect the integrity of an existing law.” compliance investigation involving national security”.

A judge will make the final decision on whether the affidavit should be opened.

the search warrant was opened on Friday, revealing that federal law enforcement officials are investigating the former president for violations of laws governing the removal or destruction of records, obstruction of an investigation, and a provision of the Espionage Act related to the collection , transmission or loss of defense information.

Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, Billiona's oceanfront estate
UNITED STATES – JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, billionaire Donald Trump’s waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Documents opened Friday included a property receipt from the Aug. 8 search indicating that the The FBI had seized 11 sets of classified documents, including four sets marked “top secret”. The FBI also seized photos and information about the French president, among other things.

Various media outlets, including CBS News, filed applications with the court last week to gain access to all documents, including underlying affidavits, related to the search warrant. The affidavit is likely to contain key details about the government’s investigation of Trump.

But while the Justice Department has “carefully considered whether the affidavit can be released subject to redactions,” it said in Monday’s court filing that “redactions necessary to mitigate damage to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to cause the rest unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and publication of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.”

“However, if the Court orders a partial unsealing of the affidavit, the government respectfully requests the opportunity to provide the Court with the proposed redactions,” the Justice Department continued.

The Justice Department said it would be allowed to open other documents related to the search warrant, the government’s motion to seal the search warrant, and the cover pages associated with the search warrant.

In January, National Archives officials recovered 15 boxes of presidential records from Mar-a-Lago, some of which contained classified information. In July, a Certified Trump Lawyer investigators that all classified material had been turned over to the National Archives.

Trump claimed last week that he had declassified all the material seized at Mar-a-Lago while he was still in office. While a sitting president has extensive declassification capabilities, Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House intelligence committee, said in “Take on the Nation” on Sunday that he has seen no evidence that Trump declassified the material while in office. In addition, Schiff said the authority to declassify material does not extend to a former president, calling it “absurd” for Trump to claim “18 months then the fact” that he had retroactively declassified the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, told CBS News’ Robert Costa that Trump’s handling of classified documents it “concerned” him.

According to Bolton, intelligence informants would bring images or graphics for the president to view and hand over.

“Often, the president would say, ‘Well, can I keep this?’ And in my experience, intelligence insiders would most often say, ‘Well, sir, we’d rather take that back,'” Bolton said. “But sometimes they forgot.”

Earlier this year, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of the records. The National Archives also said at the time that some of the documents Trump gave them had been ripped and glued back together.

Trump allies at the House Judiciary Committee on Monday sent letters to senior Biden administration officials demanding that documents and communications about the FBI search of Trump’s residence be sent to Congress.

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