Former President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC on August 6, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
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A magistrate judge said he’s inclined to unseal parts of an FBI affidavit underlying the Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
The DOJ had asked to keep the affidavit under seal to safeguard its investigation into Trump’s handling of national security information.
Trump reportedly wants the affidavit released, but legal experts say that could backfire on the former president.
A Florida judge said Thursday that he’s inclined to unseal parts of an FBI affidavit laying out the Justice Department’s rationale for seeking a search warrant against former President Donald Trump.
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart made the statement at a widely-watched hearing during which the DOJ faced off against media organizations over whether the affidavit, which is currently under seal, should be released to the public.
“I am not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed,” Reinhart said during Thursday’s hearing.
Noting that he hasn’t made a decision yet, the judge instructed the DOJ to submit its proposed redactions for the affidavit by next Thursday, after which Reinhart will come to a final ruling.
The FBI executed its search warrant at Mar-a-Lago last week and recovered 20 boxes of official government documents and at least 11 sets of classified records, some of which were marked top secret.
Reinhart later authorized the release of the warrant, which revealed that the Justice Department is currently investigating if Trump broke three federal laws, including the Espionage Act, when he moved the records from the White House to Mar-a-Lago upon leaving office.
Jay Bratt, a counterintelligence official at the DOJ, argued Thursday that the affidavit should stay under wraps because the investigation into Trump’s handling of national security information is still in its “early stages,” and unsealing the affidavit could reveal investigative methods and techniques.
Bratt also said there’s a “real concern, not just for the safety of these witnesses, but to chill other witnesses who may come forward and cooperate” in the investigation.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.