A federal magistrate on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to release by noon ET Friday a redacted version of the affidavit he filed with the court when he obtained approval for a search warrant at the home of former President Donald Trump in Florida earlier this month.
In the document, investigators investigating Trump’s handling of classified White House documents should have explained to the judge why they believed there was probable cause for a crime and that evidence existed of that crime at the compound. from Florida.
Here’s what we know about what’s about to unfold:
The DOJ files under seal the proposed deletions: The Justice Department has submitted the redactions it believes the affidavit will need if the judge were to release it. Along with this, the department will also submit legal arguments as to why these deletions are necessary.
“The United States has filed a sealed submission pursuant to the Court’s August 22 order,” a DOJ spokesperson said. “The Department of Justice respectfully declines further comment while the Court considers the matter.”
Several news outlets filed a request that the brief containing the DOJ’s legal arguments be filed publicly with redactions, but the judge granted the request.
Judge satisfied with the arguments of the DOJ for the parts which will remain private: The judge said last week that the department had yet to convince him that the entire affidavit should remain sealed. But he still left himself a little leeway to change his mind, according to what the ministry will tell him in this latest series of secret filings.
He wrote in a notice published Monday that “the current record” did not warrant “keeping the entire affidavit sealed.” He also wrote that “at this stage” he did not accept the Department of Justice’s argument that once all necessary redactions were made, they would be “so extensive as to result in meaningless disclosure.” .
“[B]but I might eventually come to that conclusion after hearing more from the government,” he wrote at the time.
Along with his subsequent order approving the release of the affidavit, Reinhart said he reviewed the affidavit, the DOJ’s proposed redactions, and his memorandum explaining the proposed redactions.
The government convinced him, he said, that parts of the affidavit should remain sealed because “disclosure would reveal (1) the identities of witnesses, law enforcement officers and parties unindicted, (2) strategy, focus, scope, sources, and methods, and (3) grand jury information.”
He concluded that the government had discharged “its burden of showing that the redactions it proposes are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and constitute the cheaper to seal the entire affidavit”.
But the judge took into account factors promoting transparency: As Reinhart wrote in Monday’s notice, the Justice Department has already acknowledged that the warrant concerns “matters of substantial public interest.”
“It is certain that the unsealing of the affidavit would promote public understanding of historically significant events,” Reinhart said. “That factor works in favor of disclosure.”
The historical significance of Mar-a-Lago’s research also made Reinhart skeptical of another argument advanced by the DOJ: that the work required to perform redactions will strain the department’s resources and could set a precedent. which will create similar disruptions and burdens in other cases.
“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of the residence of a former president, the government has yet to demonstrate that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify the sealing off,” said writes the judge.