A federal judge ordered the Justice Department on Thursday to unseal its redacted version of an affidavit it used to obtain a search warrant searching for classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s estate at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, residence.
Justice Bruce Reinhart’s order came after the Justice Department earlier in the day proposed redrafting of the secret document, which establishes the legal justification for searching Trump’s property as part of an ongoing investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents. government by the former Republican president.
In his order, Reinhart explained that he had reviewed the redacted affidavit and found that “the government has fulfilled its charge to demonstrate that the proposed redactions are narrowly designed to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous in the alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit”.
The affidavit is being requested by various US news organizations and other groups.
The Justice Department had opposed making the document public, saying it contains critical details about ongoing investigations, including information about government investigative techniques and witnesses interviewed by the FBI.
Reinhart gave the Justice Department until noon Friday to file the affidavit.
The investigation of August 8 at Mar-a-Lago set off a political firestorm, prompting Trump and his allies to accuse the Biden administration of “arming itself” with the Justice Department and the FBI.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who authorized the Justice Department to seek a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, dismissed the charge.
During the search, FBI agents removed 11 sets of documents classified as confidential, secret or top secret, according to a property receipt provided to Trump’s attorney.
The content of the documents remains uncertain. But the information was considered sensitive enough for Garland to personally intervene in the case.
The search came months after Trump turned over to the National Archives 15 boxes of government records that he had brought to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House in January 2021.
*With information from VOA journalists Celia Mendoza, from Florida, and Masood Farivar, from Washington DC.
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