Justice Department opposes release of Trump search affidavit

The Justice Department building in Washington, D.C. where in a new court filing Monday, the DOJ opposed the release of the search affidavit which justifies the reason behind last week’s search of former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 15 (UPI) — The Justice Department has opposed the release of a sworn affidavit, describing the reason behind the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump‘s home at Mar-a-Lago, saying it would jeopardize the government’s investigation, according to a new court filing Monday.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said in the filing after a number of news outlets argued for transparency “in the public interest.”

“There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed,” the filing said.

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

The warrant also detailed the areas searched, within the Mar-a-Lago mansion, including the so-called “45 Office” and all storage rooms used by the former president and his staff to store boxes. The search did not include areas occupied or rented by third parties such as private guest suites that were not used by Trump and his staff.

In Monday’s filing, the Justice Department said it would allow the court to unseal a redacted document connected to the search warrant, that includes a cover sheet and the motion to seal the warrant, but nothing else as the department argued information in the affidavit might impact the government’s ability to interview witnesses in the investigation.

“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” Gonzalez and Bratt said. “This is not merely a hypothetical concern, given the widely reported threats made against law enforcement personnel in the wake of the Aug. 8 search.”

Besides media requests to unseal the affidavit, House and Senate lawmakers in both parties have also demanded additional details about the hunt for classified documents, while calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to justify the search.

On Sunday, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a bipartisan letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Garland requesting all information regarding the rationale behind the search, Rubio told Axios.

Meanwhile, Trump is demanding the return of the seized documents while claiming the search was politically motivated.

“Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything,” Trump said on his Truth Social website Friday. “They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago.”

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