DOJ Urges Judge To Keep Trump Raid Affidavit Sealed From Public
Michael GinsbergAugust 15, 2022 5:49 PM ET
(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is opposing the release of a document that would shed light on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Aug. 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago, agency lawyers wrote in a Monday filing.
Judicial Watch, The New York Times, and several other media and government watchdog organizations filed motions to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, warrant affidavit, and property receipt shortly after the search. The DOJ made the warrant and property receipt public on Friday. The documents showed that the FBI seized eleven sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, and that Trump is under investigation for potential obstruction of justice and violations of the Espionage Act.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez argued that making the underlying affidavit public would risk “the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security.” The affidavit includes testimony from federal agents explaining why they believed a search of the Palm Beach estate is necessary, and likely details information about witnesses.
“The affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps. In addition, information about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation,” Gonzalez wrote.
Gonzalez added that the DOJ would not oppose releasing the search warrant application’s cover sheet, the federal government’s motion to seal the documents, and the federal court’s sealing order. (RELATED: Merrick Garland Says He ‘Personally Approved’ Mar-A-Lago Raid)
Attorney General Merrick Garland worried during a Thursday press conference that FBI agents could be subject to increased threats as a result of the search. Gonzalez repeated that concern about witnesses, arguing that disclosure “would likely chill future cooperation” in the case. Gonzalez also cited the attemptedarmed break-in of an FBI field office in the filing.
Trump has called on the DOJ to release more documents related to the search. He did not release the warrant, which his attorney, Christina Bobb, signed for when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Trump has also denied that any documents held at Mar-a-Lago were classified, claiming that he declassified them all before leaving office. As president, Trump held the absolute right to declassify and make public all government documents.
A bipartisan array of lawmakers has requested briefings from the DOJ detailing the process ending in the search, the documents found by the FBI, and how their release would impact national security.