US judge asks Justice Department to release Trump’s redacted search affidavit

An aerial view of former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, US, August 15 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Aug 25 (Reuters) – A Florida federal judge on Thursday ordered the U.S. Justice Department to release a redacted version of his affidavit that underpinned the August 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s home .

US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the redacted document released Friday at noon (1600 GMT). His order came just hours after a Justice Department spokesperson confirmed that prosecutors had submitted to the judge a sealed copy of his affidavit along with drafting proposals.

Reinhart this month approved the Justice Department warrant that preceded the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. The affidavit is a sworn statement describing the evidence that gave the Department of Justice a probable reason to seek a search warrant.

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The FBI, in its court-approved search in Mar-a-Lago, took away more than 20 boxes containing 11 sets of classified government documents, some of which were labeled “top secret”.

After Trump accused the FBI of political retaliation against him, Attorney General Merrick Garland took the unusual step of confirming the existence of the department’s investigation and asked a court to unseal large portions of the search warrant and the property receipt listing the seized items.

The department refused to release the affidavit, prompting media companies to file a legal challenge to have it unsealed.

During a hearing last week, prosecutors asked Reinhart not to release the document, saying it could harm their ongoing investigation and chill witness cooperation, as well as create safety risks for officers in the FBI already facing increased threats.

Reinhart signaled that he did not believe the entire document should be kept secret, and he asked the Justice Department to provide a copy with proposed deletions. Reinhart at the hearing said prosecutors would have the option to appeal if they disagreed with his proposed version.

Trump on social media demanded that the document be unsealed, although his attorneys did not weigh in on the matter.

He filed a separate civil suit asking another judge to halt the FBI’s review of the seized records pending the appointment of a special master to independently review them for material that could be protected by executive privilege, a legal principle that allows a president to protect certain information. .

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon asked Trump’s legal team to file a more focused request by Friday that better explains what relief the former president is seeking and why his request shouldn’t be sent to Reinhart instead. .

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About Charles D. Goolsby

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