Despite demands from Trump and his allies to make the affidavit public, aides warn it could backfire.
The search warrant and inventory list have already been made public by a federal judge.
The DOJ says releasing the affidavit could cause “irreparable damage.”
Since the FBI conducted a search on former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate, Mar-a-Lago, Trump and his allies have been adamant about getting the search-warrant affidavit released to the public, but legal aides are concerned this could backfire, The Washington Post reported.
The Department of Justice requested that the court keep the affidavit sealed, saying it contains “highly sensitive” information and could have “significant and irreparable damage” to the ongoing investigation of the former president taking documents from the White House when his presidency concluded.
After public outcry over unsealing the search warrant, a federal judge obliged, making the document that granted the Justice Department access to Trump’s office, safe, and other areas of his South Florida residence public. A summary of materials seized by the FBI was also included.
“The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
However, the affidavit remains sealed.
The affidavit is likely to contain witness names, details about federal law enforcement’s search procedures, and evidence. Multiple media outlets, including The Washington Post, have submitted requests for the federal court to release the affidavit, whose attorneys cited the “historic importance of these events.”
Trump has shared his support for releasing the documents “in the interest of TRANSPARENCY” on Truth Social, his social-media platform.
A former senior official with the Justice Department said he doubts there would be anything “good” for the president in the affidavit, the Post reported.
“It’s an advocacy document,” the official told The Washington Post. The official said that while everything is the document must be true, there is “no exculpatory evidence. It’s never a good story for the defendant.”
According to The Washington Post, the magistrate judge Bruce E. Reinhart has called for a Thursday afternoon hearing, giving Trump’s legal team until Thursday morning to file an official motion with the court for the document to be released. As of Tuesday evening, the Post reported that Trump’s attorneys have not done so.
Other legal analysts cited by the Post said the resistance to release documents like search-warrant affidavits is in line with how investigations are normally conducted.
Matthew Miller, a former spokesperson for the Justice Department told the news outlet, “The Justice Department is one of the few agencies that says transparency for the sake of transparency doesn’t always make sense — particularly in an ongoing situation.”
In a rare public statement related to an ongoing investigation, Garland said he authorized the decision to seek a search warrant and called on a judge to release the search warrant and inventory list, excluding the affidavit.
“Merrick Garland has already spent a few more minutes talking about this in public than he normally would,” Stephen A. Saltzburg, a George Washington University law professor and former deputy assistant attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, told The Washington Post. “The tradition in the department is keeping the investigation and sources confidential.
Saltzburg said what makes this case stand out is the fact that this is the “first time they have searched a former president’s home.”
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