In their new filing arguing for some maintenance of secrecy, the Justice Department made clear the seriousness of the ongoing criminal investigation, saying it “involved highly classified material.”
“Disclosure of the government affidavit at this stage would also likely impede future cooperation of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” wrote the Department of Justice. “The fact that this investigation involves highly classified documents further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential harm if information is released to the public prematurely or inappropriately.”
The Justice Department said in its filing that releasing the details of the affidavit “at this time” would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.”
“The redactions necessary to mitigate the breaches in the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would serve no public interest,” he said. said the Department of Justice.
CNN, joined by The Washington Post, NBC News and Scripps, last week called on the judge to unseal all documents — including any probable cause affidavits — related to the FBI search.
“Not since the Nixon administration has a president been the subject of such a dramatic and public criminal process,” the media said in the filing, adding that the media “attempts to shed light on the actions and the unprecedented motives of the federal government”.
“Here, there could be no more ‘historically significant’ event than an FBI raid on the home of a former president for the alleged removal of national security documents after leaving office,” the media said. .
The New York Times, CBS, Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and ABC also asked the judge to unseal the affidavits.
The search warrant identifies violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and criminal treatment of government records as grounds for the search.
Republican politicians have continued to demand that the Justice Department explain their reasoning for taking the dramatic step of searching Mar-a-Lago.
After the judge unsealed the search warrant and receipt for Trump’s property last week, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a series of tweets that “we still need to see the affidavit.” and that “Attorney General (Merrick) Garland must release the information about why a warrant was needed, not what was taken.”
Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “release of the affidavit would help, at least it would confirm that this raid was justified.”
Prosecutors must “show that this was not just a fishing expedition, that they had a valid reason to come in and do so, that they exhausted all other means,” Rounds said. , pointing out that waiting would harm the integrity of the department. “And if they can’t do that, then we have a serious problem on our hands.”
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, sent a letter to Garland and senior intelligence officials on Sunday requesting a classified briefing on the documents. seized at Mar-a -Lago.
Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, who is the top Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed that request on Sunday, telling CNN’s Brianna Keilar that “Congress is saying show us the goods.”