Redacted affidavit of Trump research expected to be released



The redactions proposed by the Department of Justice are likely to be significant given the sensitivity of the investigation.

An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate August 10, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is expected to release a heavily blacked-out document on Friday explaining the rationale for a FBI Research from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate earlier this month when agents removed top-secret government files and other classified documents.

  • Trump seeks special master to review Mar-a-Lago documents

  • Judge can release affidavit in Trump search, but only after it’s written

The document, expected by noon, is likely to offer at least some new details about an ongoing criminal investigation that has posed fresh legal peril for Trump just as he lays the groundwork for another presidential election. Although Justice Department officials are believed to have suppressed sensitive details about the witnesses, as well as the scope and direction of the investigation, the affidavit may offer the most comprehensive explanation yet of the events. which led to the August 8 search at Mar-a-Lago.

The released document is the redacted form of an affidavit, or sworn statement, that the FBI submitted to a judge so they could obtain a warrant to search Trump’s property. Affidavits typically contain vital information about an investigation, with officers explaining to a judge the rationale for why they want to search a particular property and why they think they are likely to find evidence of a potential crime there. . But the affidavits regularly remain sealed during ongoing investigations, which makes the judge’s decision to reveal parts of them all the more striking.

In a recognition of the extraordinary public interest in the investigation, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday ordered the department by Friday to release a redacted version of the affidavit. The directive came hours after federal law enforcement officials sealed the parts of the affidavit they want to keep secret as their investigation progresses.

The redactions proposed by the Department of Justice are likely to be significant given the sensitivity of the investigation, reducing the likelihood that the document will offer a comprehensive overview of the basis of the unprecedented research or important information about the direction of the investigation. Still, even a redacted affidavit may contain at least some new revelations about the investigation, and is likely to help explain why federal agents who had been trying for months to retrieve sensitive government records from Mar-a-Lago got away with it. finally felt compelled to obtain a search warrant.

Documents already made public show that the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from the property, including information marked top secret. They also show federal agents investigating potential violations of three different federal statutes, including one that governs the collection, transmission, or loss of defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes deal with the concealment, mutilation or suppression of documents and the destruction, alteration or falsification of documents in federal investigations.

It’s possible the affidavit, particularly in its unredacted form, could shed light on key unanswered questions, including why sensitive presidential documents — classified documents, among them — were transported to Mar-a- Lago after Trump left the White House and why Trump and his representatives did not provide the entire tranche of material to the National Archives and Records Administration despite repeated entreaties.

He could also offer additional details about Trump’s back and forth with the FBI, including a subpoena for documents issued last spring, as well as a June visit by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how documents were stored. .

The Justice Department previously challenged media arguments to release any part of the affidavit, saying the release could contain private information about witnesses and investigative tactics. But Reinhart, acknowledging the extraordinary public interest in the investigation, said last week he was not inclined to keep the entire document sealed and told federal officials to privately submit the redactions to him. he wanted to do.

In his order Thursday, Reinhart said the department made a compelling case for leaving large sealed swaths of the document that, if released, would reveal grand jury information; the identity of witnesses and “non-accused parties”; and details of the “strategy, focus, scope, sources and methods” of the investigation.

But he also said he was satisfied “that the government has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and constitute the ‘least expensive alternative to sealing the entire affidavit’.


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