Justice Dept. ordered to redact Mar-a-Lago search affidavit for possible unsealing

The Justice Department is trying to keep an affidavit related to the search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida private to protect witnesses and other aspects of the case. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Aug. 19 (UPI) — A federal judge in Florida ordered the Justice Department on Thursday to redact portions of the affidavit used to get the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, presuming that some of it can unsealed.

Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart said at least portions of the affidavit could “presumptively be unsealed.” He ordered the Justice Department to send him proposed redactions under seal by noon Aug. 25.

The department has opposed releasing the document, saying it would compromise the investigation into former President Donald Trump‘s handling of potentially classified documents that he took with him to his Palm Beach, Fla., residence when he left the White House.

Reinhart gave the government a week to redact any portions of the affidavit they believe will harm their ongoing investigation that led to the search.

Prior to the hearing, the department had proposed redactions in case Reinhart allowed a partial unsealing.

The department moved to unseal the search warrant and FBI property receipt from the search on Aug. 11.

In a 13-page legal filing this week, Justice Department lawyers called the affidavit a matter of national security and warned Reinhart against releasing it.

“If disclosed, 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,” the filing said.

The department also argued that making the affidavit public would expose government witnesses who are involved in the investigation.

The news outlets asking Reinhart to unseal the affidavit — which include CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — are doing so on the grounds of widespread public interest and the public’s right to know following remarks from Trump that are at odds with the Justice Department’s account.

Either side can appeal the ruling.


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