DOJ Says Release of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Would Harm Ongoing Criminal Investigation

“The fact that this investigation involves highly classified documents further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is released to the public prematurely or inappropriately,” DOJ officials wrote. .

Instead, the DOJ is urging the court to unseal a redacted document that includes additional filings related to the search warrant, including a cover sheet, the DOJ’s motion to seal the warrant on August 5, and the sealing order. of the judge delivered the same day.

Among the DOJ’s concerns about releasing the underlying information is that witnesses might stop cooperating, especially “given the high-profile nature of this case.”

“Disclosure of the government affidavit at this stage would also likely impede future cooperation of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” Gonzalez and Bratt said, adding “This is not merely a hypothetical concern, given the widely reported threats made against law enforcement in the aftermath of the August 8 raid.

Throughout the filing, the DOJ refers to its ongoing criminal investigation related to the search — an investigation that last week found the search warrant included potential crimes related to the mishandling of classified documents and presidential records, as well as obstruction of justice. Revealing the affidavit, the DOJ noted Monday, would jeopardize that investigation.

“Here, the government has a compelling and overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation,” DOJ officials argued.

The filing cites reports of an increase in threats against FBI agents as well as an attack by a gunman on an FBI building in Cincinnati last week.

Although the magistrate judge overseeing the case, Bruce Reinhart, is not bound by the DOJ’s request to maintain secrecy of the affidavit, it would represent an extremely rare step even in cases of lesser national importance. The DOJ acknowledged that the decision was Reinhart’s and said that if he chose to release the affidavit, the department would propose significant redactions “so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of significant content.”

“Release of such a redacted version would serve no public interest,” Gonzalez and Bratt wrote.

House and Senate lawmakers from both parties have demanded additional details regarding the search of Trump’s home, which was linked to an effort to recover highly classified documents and other presidential records that Trump had stored there.

The sworn affidavits that support search warrants are usually sealed until charges are laid or an investigation is closed. They are usually provided by an FBI agent connected to the case and attest to the reasons the bureau believes there is probable cause for a crime.

Nicholas Wu and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.

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