Bruce Reinhart, the magistrate who signed the search warrant authorizing the raid at Mar-a-Lago, has ruled that the Justice Department has until next Thursday to offer potential redactions for the affidavit used to garner the judge’s signature.
The judge agreed that some portions of the affidavit should remain sealed, but that items such as cover sheets should be released to the public.
Not only did former President Donald Trump ask for the affidavit to be unsealed, but many members of the media asked for the same. In fact, multiple media outlets filed the paperwork that requested the affidavit be unsealed.
On next Thursday, Judge Reinhart will review the redactions, then decide how to proceed. If the Justice Department doesn’t approve of the redactions that Judge Reinhart decides to utilize, they can appeal the decision. This appeal would likely take place in the 11th Circuit Federal Court. However, the attorneys from the Justice Department could go higher, to the Supreme Court.
The public learned that Judge Reinhart would hold a hearing to determine a decision on the unsealing of the affidavit on Monday. Many Trump supporters had gathered outside the courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Both members of the media and Washington politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for the affidavit to be released. Senator Rand Paul (R- KY) told Fox News that the affidavit should be released in order to answer multiple questions that the public has regarding the raid.
The August 8th FBI search at Mar-a-Lago has ironically served to only increase the popularity of the former president. Donald Trump has teased for months that he will run again for president in 2024; an overwhelming group of Americans have said they would support Trump if he did so, particularly since the search.
Deanna Shullman, the attorney representing the media outlets asking for the unsealing for the document, said that no one is seeking the names of witnesses that may have contributed to the affidavit in question. She added that what was unsealed today were the orders to seal the search warrant and other legal papers regarding the raid. She added that the affidavit “created a roadmap” for the current investigation into President Trump.
The redacted affidavit, if it becomes available to the public, may not be available for more than a week. The Justice Department has until next Thursday to provide these suggested redactions for the affidavit.
Shullman added that Judge Reinhart has explained to them how he will proceed. First, he will receive the suggested redactions on August 25. The DOJ can also file a brief telling why they request those redactions. Judge Reinhart can then review the filings. If he agrees with the government, he will enter an order that the affidavit may be unsealed with those redactions. If he disagrees, he can also enter an order to that effect. That still doesn’t mean that Judge Reinhart will immediately release the affidavit. He must give the DOJ time to appeal that decision before he releases any material, if necessary.
Shullman said that it’s difficult to hold Reinhart to a timeline after August 25 because of the nature of the legal process. She said the timeline could be anywhere from two weeks to two months before the redacted affidavit is released.
The search warrant affidavit’s “road map” would point to the probable cause necessary to obtain a search warrant.
Jonathan Turley, legal professor at George Washington University, said that a disagreement between the judge and the government attorneys could eventually mean that the affidavit is still not released.
Turley also said that it’s possible Judge Reinhart could receive a heavily redacted copy by next week, and it would be within his purview to agree or disagree with the suggested redactions. Again, this could lead to a future appeal in a higher court that could prevent the public from seeing portions of the affidavit for quite some time.
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