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Aug 17, 2022
Florida Judge Urged to Release Most of FBI Affidavit Used to Search Trump’s Home
(Bloomberg) -- A group of media organizations urged a Florida judge to release most of an FBI affidavit that helped the Justice Department obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The public has a “clear and powerful interest” in understanding the unprecedented investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records, said the group, which includes the New York Times, CNN and Associated Press.
The government has given “little explanation as to how release would harm the ongoing investigation” even though many details of the probe are already public, the group said in the filing in federal court in West Palm Beach, where US District Judge Bruce Reinhart will hold a hearing on the matter Thursday.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the filing.
The affidavit would shed light on why the judge authorized the warrant for Trump’s estate. The dispute over its release is the latest fallout from the Aug. 8 search, which culminated in FBI agents carting away 11 sets of classified documents in about 20 boxes. Threats against the FBI -- and the judge -- have jumped since then.
The Justice Department, which had agreed to the release of the search warrant and a receipt of the property taken, opposes allowing the affidavit to become public. It says the document must remain under seal in its entirety to protect the investigation and identities of any people cooperating with the probe.
The Justice Department said if a redacted version of the affidavit was made public it would leave the document so devoid of content that it wouldn’t help the public understand what occurred.
The media group said the document should be released “with only those redactions that are necessary to protect a compelling interest articulated by the government.”
Trump has also called for the document to be made public in a post on his social media site. But the former president hasn’t filed a request with the court to do so.
The conservative group Judicial Watch said in a separate filing that keeping the affidavit sealed will “fuel more speculation, uncertainty, leaks and political intrigue.”
“The heat must be replaced with light, and soon,” Judicial Watch said. “The secrecy surrounding the search warrant, and the affidavit that led to its issuance, has caused the nation to convulse with intrigue and harmful speculation that will only increase the longer the truth is kept from the public.”
(Updates with DOJ declining to comment in fourth paragraph.)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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