The Justice Department said Monday it opposes the release of an FBI affidavit used to substantiate the search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence last week, but added that he was ready to release less descriptive material.
“If released, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap for the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a way that is highly likely to jeopardize future stages of investigation,” federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
The DOJ said in a footnote that even releasing a redacted version of the affidavit would “not serve any public interest” because of the number of details that would have to be omitted.
The latest filing, signed by South Florida U.S. attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt, mentioned a specific concern about the release of cooperating witnesses and noted that some files cannot be disclosed due to the secrecy required by the grand jury.
“As the Court knows from its review of the affidavit, it contains, among other extremely important and detailed investigative facts: extremely sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law must be kept under seal,” the filing states.
“Furthermore, witness information is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this case and the risk that revealing the identity of witnesses could impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation,” the document continues. .
“Disclosure of the government affidavit at this stage would also likely hamper future cooperation of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations.”
Gonzalez and Bratt added that the Justice Department would be willing to release other documents, including cover sheets for the initial search warrant request, the government’s motion to seal the warrant, and the sealing order issued. by US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.
The unprecedented Aug. 8 raid on the Mar-a-Lago resort town was linked to Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents, unsealed court records showed on Friday.
“The fact that this investigation involves highly classified documents further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation,” the Justice Department said in its Monday filing.
The conservative legal group Judicial Watch and nearly a dozen media outlets are calling for the release of documents related to the search. The claim is being considered by the US District Court in South Florida.
Trump said Friday he wants all documents related to the raid released.
“Not only will I not oppose the release of materials related to the un-American, unwarranted and unnecessary raid and burglary of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, but I will go even further by ENCOURAGING the publication of these documents, even though they were written by radical left democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, just as they have done over the last 6 years, Trump wrote on his Truth Social network.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Trump violated three laws relating to the custody of government records, including the Espionage Act of 1917, according court documents released Friday.
Trump claims he has declassified all records stored at his residence and argued that some records may be protected by solicitor-client privilege. Trump alleged on Monday that FBI agents “stolen my three passports (one expired)” during the raid. An inventory of seized property, however, does not mention passports.
In addition to reviewing Trump’s handling of documents, the Justice Department investigation the ex-president’s actions to challenge his 2020 election defeat, including floating the selection of rival lists of voters from swing states.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week that he personally approved the decision to search Trump’s residence, but neither he nor FBI Director Christopher Wray commented in detail on the rationale for the operation.
Garland “deliberate for weeks” on whether to approve the raid, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, and is now considering whether the Justice Department should criminally indict Trump for mishandling the records.