Mar-a-Lago FBI search: What’s next in the fight over the affidavit

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But the fight will usually take place in secret.

In the coming days, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart — who approved the warrant the FBI used to search Mar-a-Lago earlier this month — will privately consider the Justice Department’s proposals for redacting portions of the affidavit it submitted when seeking the warrant, if the affidavit is to be released at all.

In the document, the investigators investigating the handling of classified documents from the Trump White House should have explained in court why they believed there was a probable cause for a crime and that there was evidence for that crime at the Florida resort. .

The affidavit contains “substantial grand jury information,” a Justice Department attorney told Reinhart at a hearing last week where media organizations and other entities argued for the public release of the document, which had been filed under seal.

Trump has requested the release of the affidavit, as it was not part of the documents related to the warrant, which his legal team obtained during the search. But the former president has not yet formally attempted to get involved in this court battle over whether the affidavit should be unsealed, and has instead filed a separate case before another judge, asking for the affidavit to be released. statement in its entirety.

Here’s what we know about what’s going to happen:

DOJ files under seal

The Justice Department has submitted the editorials it believes the affidavit will be needed if the judge were to release it. In doing so, the department will also put forward legal arguments as to why those editors are necessary.

“The United States has filed a sealed filing by order of the court dated Aug. 22,” a DOJ spokesperson said. “The Justice Department respectfully declines further comment while the Court considers the matter.”

After Thursday’s filing deadline for the DOJ, there is no set timeline for what happens next in the dispute.

The judge can still rule that he will not release any part of the affidavit

The judge said last week that the department had not yet convinced him that the entire affidavit should remain under seal. But he’s still left himself a little room to change his mind, depending on what the department tells him in this latest round of classified filings.

He wrote in an advisory released Monday that “the current record” did not warrant “keeping the full affidavit under seal”. He also wrote that he “at this point” did not believe the Department of Justice’s argument that once all the necessary redactions were made, they would be “so comprehensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure.”

“[B]you may eventually come to that conclusion after I hear further from the government,” he wrote.

For now, the only thing that is certain is that the Justice Department has convinced the judge not to release the affidavit in its entirety without some editing.

But the judge takes into account factors that promote transparency

As Reinhart wrote on Monday’s opinion, the Justice Department has already admitted that the order concerns “matters of overriding public interest.”

“Certainly, unlocking the affidavit would advance public understanding of historically significant events,” Reinhart said. “This factor weighs in favor of disclosure.”

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The historical significance of the search for Mar-a-Lago also made Reinhart skeptical of another argument the DOJ made: that the work that will go into making editorials will strain department resources and set a precedent that similar disruptions and will cause burdens in other cases.

“Particularly given the intense public and historic interest in an unprecedented search of a former president’s residence, the administration has not yet demonstrated that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing,” the judge wrote.

Reinhart will cover the reasons why the Department of Justice says the information in the affidavit must remain confidential, including how to disclose sources and methods the government uses in its investigation, and how details of the affidavits can be used to identify witnesses.

It may take several weeks to resolve the affidavit unsealing dispute

There are currently no other pending deadlines on the public list – meaning the judge can make his next move very quickly, or he can wait several days or even weeks to act.

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At last week’s hearing, the attorney arguing on behalf of the government — DOJ counter-intelligence chief Jay Bratt, who is prominently involved in the investigation — said he would be willing to appear after the department submitted its proposed editorials. in court to discuss them “in camera”. That means a private procedure that would be out of the picture not only for the public, but also for the parties opposing the DOJ in seeking the release of the warrant documents.

But it’s unclear if the judge will call for that kind of hearing and if there would be any indication in the public records that it’s happening — adding more uncertainty to what will happen and when in the coming days.

In addition to the fluid nature of the timing, if the judge ultimately does not agree to its proposals for handling the affidavit, the Department of Justice may be given time to appeal the decision. The judge can make its ruling, but put it on hold for a period of time so that the DOJ can appeal. That would be the start of another round of proceedings that could take weeks or even months.

This story has been updated with additional details.

Katelyn Polantz of CNN contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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