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