Judge unseals redacted affidavits used to justify Trump search warrant

A federal judge has unsealed a redacted version of the affidavit that was used to substantiate the search warrant executed earlier this month at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

Documents that have been made public so far show that the FBI affidavit was 38 pages long and at least 78 paragraphs long. It is heavily redacted.

The affidavit says there was “probable cause” that evidence of the obstruction would be found at Mar-a-Lago’s premises. It also states that “there is probable cause to believe that evidence, contraband, proceeds of crime, or other items unlawfully possessed in violation of 18 USC §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found in the locals, the residents.”

The redacted affidavit also states that the FBI investigation “established that documents bearing classification marks, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI), were among the materials contained in FIFTEEN BOXES and were stored in the PREMISES in an undisclosed location.”

According to the redacted affidavit, 14 of 15 boxes recovered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January 2022 contained classified documents.

The redacted affidavit said NARA’s “greatest concern” was that highly classified documents were being downgraded, mixed with other documents and otherwise inappropriately. [sic] identified.”

Last week, the federal magistrate judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the Justice Department to provide him with proposed redactions to the affidavit — which likely includes witness statements and specific allegations — after media organizations including CBS News pushed for its public release. Reinhart said Thursday that the government had fulfilled its obligations to justify the redactions.

The FBI searched Trump’s primary residence in Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 as part of an investigation into his handling of presidential records since leaving office. On August 12, the the search warrant was unsealedas well as an inventory of seized materials, which lists 11 sets of classified documents.

Mar-a-Lago’s search warrant was approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland and then by Reinhart on August 5. Reinhart, an investigative judge at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, reviewed the affidavit and its references to investigative evidence, saying last week that “all of the information relied upon by the court is in in the affidavit”.

The Justice Department had argued that the affidavit should remain sealed, citing the need to “protect the integrity of an ongoing police investigation that involves national security.” Investigative methods and the identities of FBI agents and witnesses are at stake, prosecutors told the judge, and said releasing the affidavit risked chilling future cooperation.

Media organizations had argued that it was necessary to unseal at least parts of the affidavit to help the public understand the Justice Department’s reasons for the search.

Earlier this week, Trump and his attorneys have filed a motion before a different judge for the appointment of a special master to be appointed to examine the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. They argued that a special master — a court-appointed monitor — is needed to protect the former president’s constitutional rights.

Trump’s lawyers have also asked the Justice Department to provide them with a more detailed account of what the FBI took from his Florida compound and to return any property outside the scope of the law. . Search warrant.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received 15 boxes of presidential documents from Mar-a-Lago in January. NARA identified more than 100 documents with classification marks — including some identified as Top Secret and protected by sensitive special access programs — after its initial review of those boxes, according to a May letter sent by the archivist by Acting Archives to counsel for the former president.

Here is the redacted affidavit:

– This is a developing story.

Robert Legare, Gillian Morley, Andres Triay and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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