Feds oppose unsealing affidavit for Mar-a-Lago warrant
The US Justice Department rejects efforts to make public the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Florida resort.
The US Justice Department rejected efforts on Monday to make public the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Florida resort, claiming that the inquiry "involves highly secret material" and the document contains sensitive information regarding witnesses.
The government's rejection came in response to court papers by numerous news organizations, including AP, requesting to unseal the underlying affidavit presented by the Justice Department when it requested the search warrant for Trump's Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month.
In an early Tuesday Truth Social post, Trump asked for the publication of the unredacted affidavit in the interest of openness.
The lawsuit, from US Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez and Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department national security official, claims that making the affidavit public would "cause significant and irreparable harm to this ongoing criminal investigation."
The paper contains "highly sensitive information about witnesses," including those examined by the government, and private grand jury information, according to the prosecutors.
Prosecutors feel that some more materials, including the cover sheet for the warrant and the government's request to seal the documents, should now be made public, according to the government's letter to a federal magistrate judge.
The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were not only labeled top secret but also "sensitive compartmented information," a unique category meant to protect the nation's most essential secrets, which if released publicly may cause "exceptionally grave" damage to US interests. The court records did not specify what information might be contained in the documents.
The Justice Department acknowledged Monday that its ongoing criminal investigation “implicates highly classified material.”
The search warrant, which was also made public on Friday, stated that federal officials were looking into potential violations of three distinct federal laws, including one that covers gathering, distributing, or losing defense secrets under the Espionage Act.
The other acts concern record hiding, mutilation, or removal, as well as record destruction, alteration, or fabrication in federal investigations.
What's the Mar-a-Lago search warrant?
The search warrant for Mar-a-Lago was executed last Monday as part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the finding of secret White House papers taken from Trump's property earlier this year. The National Archives had requested an investigation after claiming that 15 cartons of paperwork taken from the estate contained secret information.
It is unclear whether the Justice Department issued the warrant solely to obtain the records or as part of a larger criminal investigation or attempt to prosecute the former President. Several federal regulations control the handling of classified material, including criminal and civil sanctions, as well as presidential records.
However, the Justice Department argued in its filing on Monday that its investigation is active and ongoing and that releasing additional information could not only jeopardize the investigation but also expose witnesses to threats or discourage others from coming forward to cooperate with prosecutors.
“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,” the government wrote in the court filing.