Mon | Nov 28, 2022

Judge appears willing to unveil some of Mar-a-Lago affidavit

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2022 | 5:04 PM
Documents related to the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, are photographed Thursday, August 18, 2022. U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart agreed to make public documents, including the warrant's cover sheet, the Justice Department's motion to seal the documents and the judge's order requiring them to be sealed. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to put forward proposed redactions as he committed to making public at least part of the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's estate in Florida.

US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said that under the law, it is the government's burden to show why a redacted version should not be released and prosecutors' arguments Thursday failed to persuade him.

He gave them a week to submit a copy of the affidavit proposing the information it wants to keep secret after the FBI seized classified and top secret information during a search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate last week.

The hearing was convened after several news organisations, including The Associated Press, sought to unseal additional records tied to last week's search, including the affidavit.

It is likely to contain key details about the Justice Department's investigation examining whether Trump retained and mishandled classified and sensitive government records.

The Justice Department has adamantly opposed making any portion of the affidavit public, arguing that doing so would compromise its ongoing investigation, would expose the identities of witnesses and could prevent others from coming forward and cooperating with the government.

The attorneys for the news organisations, however, argued that the unprecedented nature of the Justice Department's investigation warrants public disclosure.

“You can't trust what you can't see,” said Chuck Tobin, a lawyer representing the AP and several other news outlets.

In addition to ordering the redactions, the judge agreed to make public other documents, including the warrant's cover sheet, the Justice Department's motion to seal the documents and the judge's order requiring them to be sealed.

Those documents showed the FBI was specifically investigating the “willful retention of national defence information,” the concealment or removal of government records and obstruction of a federal investigation.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.