Magistrate Judge to Release Redacted Affidavit on Mar-a-Lago Search

August 25, 2022 by Dan McCue
Magistrate Judge to Release Redacted Affidavit on Mar-a-Lago Search
In a brief order on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon signaled some confusion about the motion Trump’s attorneys filed on Monday. (Jon Elswick/AP Photo)

PALM BEACH, Fla. — A federal magistrate judge on Thursday said he would release a heavily redacted version of the affidavit the FBI used to convince him to green light a search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

“I find that the government has met its burden of showing a compelling reason/good cause to seal portions of the affidavit,” Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart wrote just hours after the proposed redactions were submitted for his approval by the Justice Department.

The redacted document must be released by noon Friday, the judge said.

During a hearing last week, he acknowledged that the redaction might be so great as to effectively render the document “gibberish.”

On Thursday he reminded the interested parties — including the news organizations that had asked for the affidavit’s release — that the redactions would likely black out the identities of witnesses and law enforcement agents, as well as any details about the investigators strategy and what they were looking for.

Disclosing even a partial version of the affidavit would be highly unusual, and last week the Justice Department argued strenuously that doing so could compromise its ongoing investigation.

In its most complete form, the document would disclose important details about the government’s justification for taking the extraordinary step of searching Trump’s home at the Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8.

In the end, for both the judge and the Justice Department, the situation is a tough balancing act: On the one hand, there’s the need to protect the investigation until and if charges are filed in the case. 

On the other, given the involvement of a former president, the public interest in the case is extraordinarily high and demands that Attorney General Merrick Garland explain his department’s action at a near fever pitch.

After the search at Mar-a-Lago, the FBI reported a surge in threats against its agents. Also,  an armed man tried to breach the bureau’s Cincinnati field office before being killed in a shootout with local police.

Trump’s legal team reportedly was not given a chance to see the redacted affidavit  before Reinhart handed down his decision. To date they have not taken a position on whether or not it should be released.

However, they do have something of a big, related decision pending in a courtroom several miles north of Reinhart’s chambers.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, presiding in Fort Pierce, Florida, has been asked by Trump’s team to limit the Justice Department’s review of the records seized from Mar-a-Lago and appoint a special master to look at the documents.

On Monday, Cannon, a Trump appointee, asked the former president’s attorneys to clarify several aspects of their request. She asked them to submit their answers to her by Friday.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

A+
a-
  • Bruce Reinhart
  • FBI
  • Magistrate judge
  • Mar-a-Lago
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Law

    June 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Federal Judge Tosses Florida Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some... Read More

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some transgender adults is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May of last year, barred doctors... Read More

    June 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Justice Dept., FDA Announce Crackdown on Illegal E-Cigarette Sales

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration are the leads on a new multi-agency task force... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration are the leads on a new multi-agency task force intended to crack down on the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes. Also participating in the task force are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and... Read More

    June 10, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    FCC Wants Net Neutrality Case Transferred to DC Circuit

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is trying to keep a pivotal net neutrality case in Washington, D.C., as the... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is trying to keep a pivotal net neutrality case in Washington, D.C., as the agency seeks to prevent internet companies from giving preference to favored customers. Along with its motion to transfer the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of... Read More

    June 7, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    Transit Agency Ban on Issue-Oriented Ads Overridden by Federal Court

    WASHINGTON — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can no longer ban ads bearing political issue messages under a recent... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can no longer ban ads bearing political issue messages under a recent federal court ruling. The ruling was based on a lawsuit that a religious group called WallBuilders filed against the transit agency. WallBuilders is a nonprofit organization... Read More

    11th Circuit Judge Uses ChatGPT to Inform Appeals Decision

    ATLANTA — Conceding many of his colleagues might consider it "heresy," a federal appeals court judge revealed last week that... Read More

    ATLANTA — Conceding many of his colleagues might consider it "heresy," a federal appeals court judge revealed last week that he used AI — in the form of ChatGPT — when drafting his concurrence to a ruling in a civil negligence case.  U.S. Circuit Judge Kevin... Read More

    June 6, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Georgia Appeals Court Puts Trump Election Case on Ice

    ATLANTA —The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday temporarily halted proceedings in the 2020 election interference case against former President... Read More

    ATLANTA —The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday temporarily halted proceedings in the 2020 election interference case against former President Donald Trump and several co-defendants while it reviews a lower court decision allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue prosecuting the case. The three-judge... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top