The affidavit used to create a search warrant that allowed the FBI to raid President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago recently cannot be kept completely hidden from the American public, according to a judge.
The FBI raided the president’s home apparently hunting for government documents, possibly classified, even though Trump’s team had been cooperating with the government in its requests.
And if the issue comes to court, a precedent set that involved Bill Clinton confirms that presidents can declassify documents without going through the regular process others use, and if they are in his custody, they are presumed to belong to him.
Fox News revealed that Judge Bruce Reinhart, who authorized the search warrant, now has admitted the FBI’s raid was “unprecedented” as he formally rejected the Justice Department’s demand to keep the affidavit sealed.
He, in fact, rejected “the government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire affidavit under seal.”
Exactly how much eventually will be released is uncertain at this point.
But the judge noted, “The government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases.
“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former president’s residence, the government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”
There has been speculation that someone inside Trump’s organization made allegations against him, and those details could be in the affidavit.
Reinhart said he’ll let the DOJ propose redactions to the document.
“Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that by the deadline, the government shall file under seal a submission addressing possible redactions and providing any additional evidence or legal argument that the government believes relevant to the pending motions to unseal.”
Several groups already went to court to get the substance of the warrant released, as the government wanted to keep most of the details about the case secret.
There have been allegations that the DOJ and FBI wanted to search Trump’s home because they feared he might have documentation of their actual involvement in the creation of the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory they – and Democrats – used against Trump in 2016 and after.
That theory has been debunked, but it included even false statements from the FBI to a court, while agents were seeking permission to spy on the campaign.
Trump is not a party to the court case, but also has demanded that the affidavit be unsealed and released in an unredacted form.
The FBI did seize, during the raid, Trump’s passports and various documents described as privileged because of attorney-client links.
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