Although the affidavit utilized to get the warrant to search President Trump’s home, Mar-a-Lago, remains sealed until Judge Bruce Reinhart can make a decision about suggested redactions, the magistrate did unseal some of the documents previously kept private by the Department of Justice. Those documents that were unsealed immediately include the application for the warrant, the motion to seal said warrant, and the cover sheet.
Yesterday, This Nation reported on the process by which Judge Reinhart will unseal the affidavit using to obtain the search warrant. Government attorneys have until next Thursday, August 25, to provide suggested redactions to the affidavit, which Judge Reinhart will then review. Reinhart can either agree or disagree with the suggestions. If he disagrees, he will write the order stating such, but will give the Justice Department time to appeal that decision.
So, although the next step in the process of unsealing the Trump affidavit may not be complete next week. It could be closer to midterm elections before the affidavit is released for the public – if it is released at all.
On Thursday, the government’s representatives argued that “unsealing (the) Trump FBI raid affidavit (was) unwise given the volatile state of the nation.”
Justice Department prosecutor Jay Bratt said that the unsealed affidavit would “provide of roadmap” of the investigation, which he also described as “still in its early stages.” Bratt mentioned that the nation is in a “volatile state,” and he used this to argue that the affidavit shouldn’t be unsealed.
Bratt’s comments are not unwarranted; last week, the FBI and DOJ both reported increased threats and calls for violence, mostly on social media. However, on Thursday past, an Ohio man walked into an FBI field office in Cincinnati with “a nail gun and an AR-15 style rifle.” He never carried out any threat; he left when agents confronted him. Ricky Shiffer, Jr. was later killed in a showdown with state police. On Sunday, a young man drove his car into a barricade at the Capitol Building. The man would later take his own life without harming any of the Capitol Police officers present.
Judge Reinhart acknowledged today, agreeing with the media outlets who wish to see the affidavit unsealed in its entirety, that the case is “very unique and unprecedented.”
Bratt told the magistrate today “this is not a precedent we want to set,” adding that the government “is very concerned about the safety of the witnesses in the case.”
Judge Reinhart would eventually tell Bratt and other Justice Department attorneys that the government “had not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed.”
As expected, Donald Trump’s representatives had comments about the decision. President Trump had supported unsealing the entire remaining documents in the interest of the public. A representative for President Trump said “(The former president) has made clear his view that the American people should be permitted to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid.”
President Trump also posted a statement on his social media network, Truth Social, in which he lauded the judge’s ruling thus far: “Today, magistrate Judge Reinhard rejected the Justice Department’s cynical attempt to hid the whole affidavit from Americans. No redactions should be necessary. . .”
Dozens of Trump supporters gathered outside the courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the hearing to discuss unsealing the affidavit was being held. Some of them had flags and signs bearing Trump’s name.
Andy McCarthy, legal scholar and a frequent Fox News contributor, said that Attorney General Merrick Garland may have actually hurt the Justice Department’s goal of keeping the affidavit sealed. McCarthy said that Garland’s brief appearance late last week, in which Garland said he would allow for filings and other legal documents to speak for the investigation may have actually prompted the judge to consider unsealing the affidavit as the media outlets – and President Trump – requested.
McCarthy said that by staying mostly silent, Garland could have set the stage for the hearing today and a hopeful partial unsealing of those documents.