After hearing arguments in court on Thursday, federal magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart ordered Justice Department officials to submit proposed redactions by noon eastern time Thursday.
The Justice Department has opposed the release of the document, saying the investigation is at an “early stage” and making the affidavit public could deter potential witnesses, protecting the safety of those already interviewed in endanger and reveal future research steps. News organizations are pushing for its disclosure, citing public interest in a case arising from Trump’s possession of classified documents.
“I can’t say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a pointless disclosure, but I may eventually come to that conclusion after hearing further from the government,” Reinhart said in the written order Monday.
The order also makes explicit that Reinhart rejected the Justice Department’s argument that “the current document justifies the entire affidavit must be sealed.”
The affidavit has become the latest flashpoint in a criminal investigation into material removed from the White House last year as Trump’s term ended. On August 8, FBI agents executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, taking dozens of boxes of what authorities have characterized as top-secret national secrets.
Judge indicates that he is willing to disclose a number of affidavits from Mar-a-Lago
Reinhart said he would not make a decision on unsealing the document until he reviewed the government’s proposed redactions and would hold any ruling pending possible appeals — meaning the affidavit may be made public for some time, if ever. .
The affidavit would provide the most comprehensive reason why the administration insisted on searching Trump’s property — and what investigative steps it had taken beforehand. It would show who the Justice officials had interviewed, what they thought may have been in the property, and why they believed there was a likely cause for crimes to have been committed.
Writing on his Truth Social platform, Trump last week called for “the immediate release of the completely unedited affidavit”. However, his lawyers have yet to go to court.
The judge noted Monday that in the two weeks since the FBI seized classified documents, Trump has filed no legal motion over whether the affidavit should be made public.
“Neither former President Trump, nor anyone else claiming to own the property has filed a plea to take a stance on the interveners’ motions to unseal,” the judge wrote.