DOJ Nixes Release of Affidavit Supporting Warrant Used in FBI Trump Raid - The Jewish Voice
60.9 F
New York
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

DOJ Nixes Release of Affidavit Supporting Warrant Used in FBI Trump Raid

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

-Advertisement-

Must read

Edited by: TJVNews.com

The Justice Department on Monday rebuffed efforts to make public the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida, saying the investigation “implicates highly classified material” and the document contains sensitive information about witnesses, according to an AP report on Tuesday.

The government’s opposition came in response to court filings by several news organizations, including The Associated Press, seeking to unseal the underlying affidavit the Justice Department submitted when it asked for the warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month.

Trump, in a Truth Social post early Tuesday, called for the release of the unredacted affidavit in the interest of transparency, as was reported by the AP.

The court filing — from Juan Antonio Gonzalez, the U.S. attorney in Miami, and Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department national security official — argues that making the affidavit public would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation,” according to the report.

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general’s office for a deposition in a civil investigation. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The document, the prosecutors say, details “highly sensitive information about witnesses,” including people who have been interviewed by the government and contains confidential grand jury information.

The AP reported that the government told a federal magistrate judge that prosecutors believe some additional records, including the cover sheet for the warrant and the government’s request to seal the documents, should now be made public.

A property receipt unsealed Friday showed the FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents, with some not only marked top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests, according to the AP report. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

The Justice Department acknowledged Monday that its ongoing criminal investigation “implicates highly classified material.”

The search warrant, also unsealed Friday, said federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act, as was reported by the AP.  The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant, carried out last Monday, was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The AP reported that the National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is pictured, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation or an attempt to prosecute the former president, as the AP report indicated. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information, with both criminal and civil penalties, as well as presidential records.

But the Justice Department, in its filing Monday, argued that its investigation is active and ongoing and that releasing additional information could not only compromise the probe but also subject witnesses to threats or deter others from coming forward to cooperate with prosecutors, as per the AP report.

“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 government wrote in the court filing.

The Epoch Times reported that a federal judge in Florida has avoided ruling on whether to unseal a key document related to the FBI’s raid of Trump’s resort, instead scheduling a hearing to hear arguments from parties in person.

Judicial Watch’s motion to unseal the search warrant affidavit and other materials, backed by a number of other businesses and groups, will be the subject of the August 18th hearing at the federal court in West Palm Beach, as was reported by The Epoch Times.

The nonprofit urged the court on August 10th, two days after the raid, to unseal the warrant, the affidavit, and related documents, the report indicated.

“Given the political context, and the highly unusual action of executing a search warrant at the residence of a former President and likely future political opponent, it is essential that the public understands as soon as possible the basis for the government’s action. Any government interest in securing the identities of witnesses and confidential sources, if any, may be addressed by appropriate redactions from the search warrant affidavit,” Judicial Watch said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart unsealed the warrant itself and inventory receipts listing items agents seized from the resort but has kept other materials shielded, according to The Epoch Times report.

Among them are the affidavit, a document signed by a law enforcement official that argued for a warrant to be approved.

“It’s absolutely critical to get the affidavit. The affidavit is the foundation. It’s the predicate for the entire search warrant process,” Chris Farrell, director of research and investigation at Judicial Watch, told The Epoch Times in a recent interview. [

Reinhart approved the warrant request on August 5th. The DOJ said the public interest in the case, among other reasons, warranted the unsealing of the warrant and the receipts, as was reported by The Epoch Times.

Those documents showed that government officials think Trump may have violated three federal laws, including a law that prohibits destroying, altering, or falsifying certain records. The Epoch Times reported that the government has resisted calls to make the affidavit public.

Lawyers for the government said in an August 15th filing that keeping the affidavit shielded would “protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security.”

The Epoch Times also reported that while a redacted copy of the document could be released, “the redactions necessary to mitigate harms to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest,” they also said. Parties can file replies to the government’s filing by 9 a.m. on Aug. 18.  The hearing will start at 1 p.m. that day, according to The Epoch Times report.

Also on Tuesday, The Epoch Times reported that South Carolina Senator and Trump ally Lindsey Graham  called for the release of the FBI affidavit that was used to justify the Florida raid.

“We need the affidavit, show your cards, Merrick Garland can’t have it both ways, he can’t give us the inventory of the warrant without telling us why it was necessary … without the affidavit, we’re flying blind in the dark,” Graham said, adding, “The American people are going through too much pain, too much heartache on this endless effort to destroy Donald Trump.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Graham’s comment came a day after Department of Justice lawyers argued in court that the affidavit should be sealed, including redacted versions of the document, because it would harm the agency’s investigation, according to The Epoch Times report.

An affidavit would provide more details about the investigation and would provide insight into why the federal government is investigating Trump, including what triggered last week’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.

A U.S. magistrate judge, Bruce Reinhart, who granted authorization of the unsealing of an FBI warrant and property receipt in 2008 represented individuals associated with infamous sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, as was first reported by The Epoch Times.  He scheduled a Thursday hearing on whether the affidavit and other related documents should be unsealed.

The Epoch Times also reported that on Monday Trump made an accusation that FBI agents took three passports from him, suggesting that the raid went too far. Department of Justice officials confirmed Monday evening that the passports would be returned, according to a screenshot of emails posted by a Trump spokesman, according to the report.

Like Graham, Trump on Truth Social called on the federal government to release the affidavit. Judicial Watch, media outlets, the Florida Center for Governmental Accountability, and other groups have filed motions to unseal the affidavit and other related documents, as was reported by The Epoch Times.

Department of Justice lawyers wrote in a 13-page filing on Monday that, “Even when the public is already aware of the general nature of the investigation, revealing the specific contents of a search warrant affidavit could alter the investigation’s trajectory, reveal ongoing and future investigative efforts, and undermine agents’ ability to collect evidence or obtain truthful testimony,” as was reported by The Epoch Times.

“In addition to the implications for the investigation, the release of this type of investigative material could have ‘devastating consequences’ for the reputations and rights of individuals whose actions and statements are described,” the lawyers continued.

Speaking to Newsmax on Tuesday, former Harvard Law School professor, Alan Dershowitz said that  Trump will likely not be arrested on charges stemming from the FBI’s raid last week, as was reported by The Epoch Times.

“Yes, it’s possible [but] I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Alan Dershowitz said about whether Trump would be arrested. People who believe that prosecution and an indictment would keep Trump away from the 2024 campaign are “dead wrong,” he remarked, as was reported by The Epoch Times.

“He can run for president even if he’s indicted, convicted, and wearing striped shirts, prison garb,” he added during the Newsmax interview. “The Constitution provides only four bases for disqualification for president and being convicted of a crime is not one of them. Congress can’t change the criteria that are in the Constitution for the election of the president,” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz has expressed similar views of the FBI raid on Trump’s Florida estate on his daily podcast called “The Dersh Show” in which he has garnered an impressively large following of listeners.

Echoing statements made by Trump and some Republicans, Dershowitz said the affidavit used to justify the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago should be released, according to The Epoch Times report.

“You can redact the names of agents, you can redact sources and methods, but what we want to know is what the basis of probable cause that they have,” the famed constitutional expert and internationally celebrated defense attorney said.

According to a report on the Newsmax web site, despite claiming an urgent need to raid Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago, Attorney General Merrick Garland was weighing whether to green light the incursion of a former president for weeks, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The DOJ and FBI had been meeting on the nature of the raid for weeks, according to sources, and the final raid was executed when Trump was in New York City before a meeting with New York Attorney General Letitia James, as was reported by Newsmax.

The lack of urgency to get the reportedly urgent documents from Mar-a-Lago was pointed out last week by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Twitter.

“The warrant for Mar-a-Largo was signed Aug. 5, but not executed until Aug. 8,” Giuliani tweeted Friday, as was reported by Newsmax.  “Sure makes it clear that what they were looking for wasn’t really serious if you could take the weekend off before acting on it,” the former New York City mayor added.

Sources for the Wall Street Journal have said that the process was put in place as much as weeks earlier, as was reported by Newsmax.

House Judiciary Committee Republicans have requested documents and information from Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the raid. A request that is unlikely to be fulfilled amid the investigation, the WSJ reported.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks to journalists at the Omaha FBI office on Wednesday, Aug.10, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. Wray addressed threats made to law enforcement after agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, in Palm Beach, Fla. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Newsmax reported that Garland is still weighing whether to pursue criminal charges for the handling of presidential documents by Trump or his staffers.

According to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports, forty-two percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Attorney General Merrick Garland, as was reported by Newsmax.com.

The figure is up from the 39% who said they had an unfavorable opinion of him in an October poll.

The poll was taken after the FBI raided the South Florida estate of former President Donald Trump.

Newsmax also reported that the poll shed light on how voters felt about the attorney general across party lines:

36% say they have a favorable impression of Garland — up from the 30% who viewed him favorably in October.

22% of Republicans view him favorably, compared to 60% who have an unfavorable opinion of him.

59% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Garland, while 23% see him unfavorably.

26% of independents view him favorably, compared to 48% who have an unfavorable opinion of him.

26% of all those polled say he is better than previous attorneys general. But 38% say he is worse than those who held the post before him.

The survey, conducted Aug. 11-14, polled 1,000 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points, according to the Newsmax report.

“He’s both extremely careful and he understands the critical role of an attorney general in these circumstances,” former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick told the WSJ. “He appreciates the context in which this is occurring.

“I don’t think he considers politics at all, but I do think he recognizes the seriousness of actions against a former president.”

(Sources: Associated Press, TheEpochTimes.com, Newsmax.com)

Additional reporting by: Fern SidmanDonatebalance of nature>

Latest article

- Advertisement -
EnglishHebrew
Skip to content