After the raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, the search warrant that Attorney General Merrick Garland greenlit and U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signed was unsealed. Also revealed was the property receipt summarizing what the FBI walked out with. However, the affidavit that would have supported probable cause and therefore would indicate the basis upon which the warrant was believed to be justified was kept sealed.
Due to pressure from numerous media organizations and other entities to unseal the search warrant and related documents, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file an omnibus response "to all motions to unseal" by 5:00 p.m. on August 15.
Accordingly, on Monday, U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and chief at the Justice Department's counterintelligence and export control section Jay Bratt filed the DOJ's response. In it, they urged the court not to unseal the affidavit.
Extra to claiming the government, in this instance, "has a compelling, overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation," the DOJ cited the following reasons for not unsealing the affidavit:
- The public is already "aware of, among other things, the potential criminal statutes at issue in this investigation" and the "general nature of the items seized, including documents marked as classified";
- Doing so would "cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation";
- The affidavit includes "highly sensitive information about witnesses, ... investigative techniques[,] and information required by law to be kept under seal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)";
- Doing so would reveal a "roadmap to the government's ongoing investigation"; and
- Doing so might preclude certain witnesses from cooperating with the investigation.
Instead of revealing the cause cited for the raid on the former president's house, the DOJ will instead provide to the public redacted documents including additional filings related to the search warrant, along with a cover sheet.
Politico reported that the magistrate judge overseeing the case, Bruce Reinhart, does not have to oblige the DOJ in keeping the affidavit secret, though he will likely do so.
Former President Trump was not pleased by the DOJ's insistence on keeping the cause for the warrant from the public. On TruthSocial, he posted at 11:54 p.m. on Monday, arguing that "in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN. Also, the Judge on this case should recuse!"
Among the items confiscated from Trump's residence by the FBI on August 8 were 11 sets of classified documents, four sets of which were reportedly marked "top secret" and three sets of which were said to be marked "secret."
The DOJ indicated that its ongoing criminal investigation "implicates highly classified material."