Justice Department asks judge to keep Trump's search warrant affidavit sealed, citing investigation

  • In US
  • 2022-08-16 02:59:59Z
  • By NBC News

Justice Department lawyers on Monday asked the judge who approved the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort to keep the accompanying affidavit under seal, citing a need to protect witnesses and the ongoing investigation.

Federal prosecutors responded to inquiries from numerous news organizations, including NBC News, to make the affidavit public by arguing it should remain sealed "to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security."

They also said the affidavit contains "highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law to be kept under seal."

The affidavit contains the government's reasonings for conducting the search of Trump's home. Trump allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have been clamoring for the Justice Department to unseal the affidavit.

"Disclosure at this juncture of the affidavit supporting probable cause would...cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation," U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and the Justice Department's counterintelligence and export control chief, Jay Bratt, wrote in Monday's court filing.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked whether the former president would file a motion to release the affidavit, in opposition to federal prosecutors, Trump attorney Christina Bobb told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that she wasn't "aware of any effort to oppose" unsealing the affidavit.

"We just are following the lead of the case that's already going and watching to see what happens in response to it," she added, without committing to filing a motion seeking the document's release.

The Justice Department's request to keep the affidavit under wraps comes after a federal judge on Friday unsealed the search warrant that FBI agents used to seize documents from Trump's residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on Aug. 8.

The property receipt of items recovered by the FBI shows that agents recovered a trove of top secret and other highly classified documents. Some papers were described as "SCI" documents, which stands for highly classified "sensitive compartmented information."

Prosecutors on Monday said in their filing that the government didn't oppose unsealing other materials filed in connection with the search warrant, documents that they said would not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.

But they said revealing the affidavit would "compromise" their investigation.

"If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government's ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps," they wrote.

Many of Trump's allies have defended the former president amid the fallout from the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago and are calling for the affidavit to be made public.

In letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Monday, several Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee demanded copies of documents and communications relating to the execution of the search warrant by Aug. 29.


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