Judge sets hearing on unsealing Mar-a-Lago search affidavit for Thursday

A Florida judge announced a hearing scheduled for Thursday on unsealing an affidavit detailing the justification of the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 16 (UPI) — A Florida judge on Tuesday scheduled a hearing on motions to release the sworn affidavit detailing the justification for the FBI’s search of Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago home.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart requested an in-person hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the West Palm Beach Division.

Reinhart on Friday unsealed the search warrant and property receipt for the Aug. 8 search at Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., residence, which showed the FBI confiscated 20 boxes and at least four sets of “miscellaneous” top secret documents.

However, on Monday, the Justice Department said it opposed the release of a sworn affidavit, which the FBI said includes detailed justification of the search warrant.

The department said unsealing the document would jeopardize the government’s investigation, despite requests from media outlets and bipartisan lawmakers, as well as demands from Trump, to unseal the document.

“In the interest of transparency, I call for the immediate release of the completely unredacted affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking break-in,” Trump posted Tuesday on Truth Social.

Also Tuesday, the Justice Department said that passports seized during the search have been returned to Trump.

A Justice Department official acknowledged in an email that the FBI seized three of the former president’s passports when they conducted their search of Mar-a-Lago last week after Trump blasted the agents Monday for “stealing” them.

“In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else,” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our country.”

The Justice Department sent the email Tuesday, which was made public by Trump’s representatives, saying the passports were ready to be picked up.

“We have learned that the filter agents seized three passports belonging to President Trump, two expired and one being his active diplomatic passport,” the email from Jay Bratt, a top official in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said. “We are returning them, and they will be ready for pickup at 2pm today.”

The FBI said in a statement that the agency “follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.”

After the search, Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Newsmax that the former President felt the number of supporters gathered outside Mar-a-Lago was “going to help me.”

“You see the number of people in front of Mar-a-Lago already? This is going to turn around. The American people have common sense. They’ve gone too far now,” Giuliani recalled Trump telling him.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he did not take the search lightly and “deliberated for weeks” over whether to approve the application for the warrant to search Trump’s home, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Garland still faces the decision of whether to pursue charges, based on evidence confiscated during the search, as Republican lawmakers and Trump supporters accuse the department of political overreach.

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