By Jack Phillips
More portions of the federal government’s search warrant affidavit for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home can now be unsealed, ruled a judge in connection to the former president’s classified documents case.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart wrote Wednesday that more sealed parts of the affidavit that was used in the FBI raid in August 2022 “should be unsealed.” However, the entirety of the affidavit shouldn’t be unsealed, he wrote, giving the Department of Justice (DOJ) until July 13 to appeal.
In an order (pdf), Mr. Reinhart, who approved the unprecedented Mar-a-Lago FBI search, wrote that the federal government “has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions of the affidavit are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interests and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire search warrant affidavit.” It came in response to a petition from media outlets to unseal the affidavit, which he denied.
The judge, meanwhile, wrote that the Justice Department agreed in a sealed filing that some parts of the search warrant could be made available to the public. However, other portions should be sealed to meet “grand jury secrecy rules and to protect investigative sources and methods.”
It is not clear when a less-redacted version of the affidavit will be filed or how the new information will be made to the public.
The DOJ released a redacted form of the search warrant affidavit last August, while the agency released a copy of the affidavit with fewer redactions last September. However, little was revealed about why investigators thought there were crimes committed at Mr. Trump’s home.
Last month, Mr. Trump was indicted on 37 counts in connection to alleged mishandling of classified information, including national defense materials. Mr. Trump also was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements, and other counts. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Prosecutors alleged Mr. Trump showed off the documents to people who did not have security clearances to review them and later tried to conceal documents from his own lawyers as they sought to comply with federal demands to find and return documents. The top charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Mr. Trump, on his Truth Social app last month, called his indictment “a DARK DAY for the United States of America.” In a video, he said, “I’m innocent and we will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly.”
In late June, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon denied a Justice Department request to file under seal the names of 84 potential witnesses it wants Mr. Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential race, to be prohibited from discussing the case with as it moves forward in court. Ms. Cannon said that, in her view, the Justice Department did not explain why it needed to file the list with the court or why it was necessary to seal the list from public view.
“The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary,” the judge wrote in her June 26 order. “It does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal,” she added.
She also scheduled a pretrial conference for July 14 to discuss matters related to the Classified Information Procedures Act.
Before, special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the DOJ’s myriad of cases against Trump, proposed a Dec. 11 trial date for Mr. Trump, requesting a postponement from a judge’s initial date in August. Ms. Cannon told defense lawyers to respond to that request by July 6.
Despite the negative press, Mr. Trump’s lead in the polls has been steady. A Fox News survey released last week shows the 45th president has a 34 percent lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, while No. 3 is former Vice President Mike Pence, who only had 3 percent support.
A Quinnipiac poll released around the same time shows that in a potential head-to-head matchup today, Mr. Trump could defeat President Joe Biden, a Democrat. The poll shows Mr. Trump with 47 percent to Mr. Biden’s 46 percent.
The former president’s co-defendant in the case, former White House valet Walt Nauta, is slated to be arraigned this Thursday.
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump was charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. The former president has denied wrongdoing, pleading not guilty to charges during a Manhattan court appearance in April.
The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Smith’s office for comment on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.