U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who authorized the search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home at Mar-a-Lago, ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday to prepare a redacted version of the search warrant affidavit — presumably to unseal it eventually — so the public can see at least part of it.
Reinhart’s ruling came after several media organizations — including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN — filed a motion in support of unsealing the document. Reinhart has now agreed to unseal the affidavit, giving the Justice Department one week — until August 25 — to propose redactions, WPTV reported.
The purpose of the affidavit was to establish probable cause for the raid at Mar-a-Lago. Calls to make its contents available to the public come as many observers, including multiple members of Congress, have speculated that the raid was the product of political bias within the DOJ.
“The media companies argue the affidavit’s release would help the public determine if the Justice Department had legitimate reasons for the search or if it was part of a Biden administration vendetta against Trump,” according to the Associated Press (AP), noting that Trump has called for the release of a full, unredacted version of the affidavit, citing the need for transparency.
“[I]n the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN,” Trump said in a social media post.
While the DOJ claims that Trump was in possession of sensitive classified materials, a copy of the search warrant, obtained by Breitbart News, revealed that the DOJ waited three days to conduct the raid, casting doubt on the supposed urgency to retrieve these materials.
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, writing in the Hill, argues that “Searches and seizures should only be used when subpoenas are inappropriate because of the risk of evidence destruction,” a remote possibility in this case because an attempt on Trump’s part to destroy evidence under subpoena would have been “a far more serious crime than what the search warrant seems to have alleged.”
The Justice Department, for its part, had asked Reinhart to keep the affidavit sealed, arguing that releasing it would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.”
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