Mar-a-Lago Raid Hearing: “Government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed”
Requires Feds To Propose Specific Redactions: “I find that on the present record the Government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed.”
The Magistrate Judge’s Order is now posted (emphasis added):
THIS CAUSE is before the Court on motions to unseal the search warrant materials, including the probable cause affidavit, that were filed by the Media-Intervenors. ECF Nos. 4, 6, 9, 20, 22, 23, 30-33. Today I held a hearing on the motions. As I ruled from the bench at the conclusion of the hearing, I find that on the present record the Government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed. It is ORDERED that by noon EST onThursday, August 25, 2022, the Government shall file under seal its proposed redactions along with a legal memorandum setting forth the justification for the proposed redactions.
You can view the Motion to Seal and Sealing Order that also were unsealed today here.
More details on the hearing from various sources. There’s no reason there couldn’t at least have been audio, which even the supreme court releases, so we’re stuck with what others report.
A top Justice Department official said Thursday the investigation into the handling of classified records housed at former President Donald Trump’s private residence is “in its early stages,” suggesting a long road ahead for the explosive probe.
“This investigation is open,” said Jay Bratt, the head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division….
Bratt argued that releasing the underlying FBI affidavit justifying the search could jeopardize “several witnesses” whose accounts of Trump’s actions were specific enough that the sources for them might be easily identified.
“This is not a precedent that we want to set,” Bratt indicated.
“This is a volatile situation with respect to this particular search across the political spectrum but certainly on one side in particular,” Mr. Bratt said. “There is a real concern not just for the safety of these witnesses but to chill other witnesses who may come forward and cooperate.”
The Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, who approved the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, held a hearing today on the motion by Judicial Watch, joined by numerous media outlets, to unseal the Affidavit used to obtain the warrant. Unfortunately, it was not live-streamed, not even audio available, so we are left with mainstream media reports of what happened.
In case you have been living under a rock, here are some background posts:
- Trump: FBI Raided Mar-a-Lago – “These Are Dark Times For Our Nation”
- Court Unseals Trump Search Warrant and Inventory of Items Seized
- FBI Broadly Rummaged Through Trump’s Files, Supporting Theory This Is Not Just About “Classified” Documents
- Feds Oppose Unsealing Affidavit Used To Obtain Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant
- Media To Judge: Unseal Mar-a-Lago Raid Affidavit Since The Feds Already Leaked So Much To Us
Reports on Court hearing:
Reinhardt has ordered other documents related to the FBI raid to be unsealed today, including the application for the warrant, the motion to seal, and the cover sheet.
Reinhart has given the government one week to submit proposed redactions under seal by noon on August 25th. Judge Reinhart will review those redactions and then decide how he wants to proceed, if he wants to make his own redactions instead.
He reminded all that if the government or media object to his redactions, which will also be under seal, they can appeal his ruling.
Jay Bratt, a top lawyer in the Department of Justice’s national security division, is arguing for the government at the hearing on requests by several news outlets — including CNN — to unseal more materials filed by the Justice Department related to the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week.
Bratt told the federal judge that letting the public read the affidavit would “provide a roadmap to the investigation,” and would even indicate the next steps in the probe.
He also described the affidavit as detailed and lengthy.
While acknowledging that there is a public interest in transparency, Bratt said that there was “another public interest” in criminal investigations being able to go forward unimpeded.
Bratt’s statements in court have so far emphasized that this is an active, ongoing criminal investigation, with robust witness interview work being done and grand jury activity.
The Justice Department argued in court on Thursday that the probable cause affidavit used to get a warrant to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence described how prosecutors might find “evidence of obstruction” on the grounds of the Florida property — a possible crime that the search warrant itself revealed was under investigation…. Bratt also said that the affidavit contained “substantial grand jury information.”
US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart set in motion on Thursday the possible public release of a heavily redacted version of the affidavit for the search at Mar-a-Lago.
The judge plans to hear more from the Justice Department by next week about how extensively investigators want to keep confidential the document that describes their investigative steps and methods leading to the need for the search.
Reinhart said he wasn’t convinced yet that the entire affidavit should remain undisclosed to the public.
Prosecutors will have the opportunity to propose redactions and explain why each piece of information needs to be kept from the public eye, Reinhart said. Those proposals will be due next Thursday.
Reinhart said he then may have additional confidential discussions with the Justice Department before making his decisions on transparency.
This post was updated multiple times, including the headlines
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“Reinhart said he wasn’t convinced yet that the entire affidavit should remain undisclosed to the public.”
And why not? Sounds like feels threatened. What could the DOJ/FBI possibly have on this guy?
Read it again
Sounds like the Judge doesn’t see the need to NOT release the affidavit- if that’s the correct interpretation then it smells fishy back to the DOJ.
Remember, the Judge doesn’t automatically put a warrant under seal ( except in special statutory cases which this is not likely one of)- then it would have been requested to put under seal.
The judge can tell which way the wind is blowing.
This is the judge that recused himself in Trump’s RICO filing that was updated mid June 2022? Maybe self preservation has some play in this decision.
Which means that even this judge might be feeling the heat from We, the People, and deciding to do what’s right (mostly).
All he is committing to are a couple of blacked out pages so MSNBC can say its been released.
That’s what I’m insinuating. Why wouldn’t he release it all while at the same time indicating that he is inclined to order the release of the entire thing? My guess is that he can see that it is going to be released anyway so why play these games to make him look bad.
Huh? You’re not making any sense.
Right now it’s sealed, as is normal for such affidavits. There is nothing unusual or sinister about it. But this is a special case, and there are strong reasons to release it, or at least part of it. The DOJ is against that. The judge just said he sees no reason why at least part of it can’t be released, and the DOJ has a week to convince him otherwise.
It’s all part of the cat and mouse game Trump is playing to rattle their cages. I am convinced he has the evidence to destroy them over Russiagate and maybe more and he has it legally.
The DOJ/FBI blew it with the raid and when ready, Trump will release the part he already ordered declassified and released when he was in office long before he left. They didn’t find what they were looking for, they didn’t specific them in the affidavits and will never admit they were on a fishing expedition to destroy critical evidence in the name of “national security”.
They blew it, they know it and Trump knows it and so the cat and mouse game while the DOJ/FBI tries to paint themselves out of their corner. They can’t raid him again on speculative comments like these from us trolls on blog threads.
Does it make sense to you now?
You are correct that it is normal for affidavits to be sealed. But, I predict that some of this one will be released after all references to CROSSFIRE HURRICANE are blacked out.
What is sinister is the targeting of political opposition by Merrick Himmler and the Gestapo. They got some ‘splainin to do.
they play games as a STALL. the longer the better,, its midterms time.. can’t give a party a advantage
Time to let the false insinuations sink in and become a media driven, Goebbelseque “truth.”
I cant prove it but I’m sure the truth is in some of these missing pieces we have yet to see.
I see ( and mostly share) your point on the judge. I think he sees a train wreck coming and he wants to minimize the blowback on him.
WSJ: The Trump Warrant Had No Legal Basis: A former president’s rights under the Presidential Records Act trump the statutes the FBI cited to justify the Mar-a-Lago raid.
You’d think the minions of Meritless Garland would be more careful.
The FIBs are already fast and loose with the affidavit facts – they’re leaking like a sieve to the press. It might be nice for the public to know the “facts” directly instead of depending on the govt to not be one-sided on its leaks.
Especially given the passport issue – they had no right to seize them without a specific order to – they didn’t list them on the seizure lists as required by law – their spokesperson cutely lied by omission to the press when questioned on if they did take them – saying they didn’t have them instead of they currently didn’t have them because they were forced to give them back.
Isn’t there legal precedent that if someone lies on one thing you need to weigh that in to the reliability of them being truthful on any other related matter? WTH should we believe the claim that even a redacted (hopefully by a third neutral party) copy would obstruct justice as opposed to the possibility that a copy would expose wrongdoing on the FIBs part?
PART of the warrant.
The part that they WANT open because they think it gives them legitimacy and helps them.
Not the part that demonstrates what complete partisan hacks they are.
By the way, they’ve outright REFUSED to appoint a special master to go over the files. So the partisan FBI hacks get to go through all the privileged Trump attorney communications that they seized.
“Reinhart said he then may have additional confidential discussions with the Justice Department before making his decisions on transparency.”
“Confidential discussions” ??? The submissions will already be under seal and confidential. Having ex parte discussions with only the government side of the dispute presents the potential for a lot more mischief than holding more hearings.
They’ve gone after every single associate of Trump who appeared even the least bit loyal.
Except for one.
Who by the way, says he’s willing to speak to the trump hangumhigh committee, oh sorry, Jan 6 clown show, oh my being bad, the f-k America AND hangumhigh trump show!!!
Good point gonzotx.
And Pence is clearly a traitor to America.
Oh look, the milhouse wing of the deep state that includes Pence takes exception to the ass being called a traitor.
Pence represents the worst in this country. They hate America and they hate Americans. They are working with the democrats, hand in hand, to destroy freedom and liberty.
You know who pence supported? Liz “witch” Cheney and her pos father.
You ever hear pence complain about people being locked up in DC without trial or bail?
Does Pence support the FBI?
Why yes, yes he does, 100%, wholeheartedly.
Only a deep state marxist could do that.
I get that normal lawerly malarkey takes a while to wade throug, but a week (plus appeals) sounds like long enough to pull shenanigans.
The DoJ has to walk a line here. They have to decide what redactions will pass muster by the Magistrate without going too far. The govt must, in essence, find a balance between reasonable and unreasonable.
Keep in mind the Magistrate will be looking side by side at original and proposed redacted copy and if the govt tries to keep back something that doesn’t make any sense to him he could very determine they aren’t operating in good faith and order the whole thing to be made public. Not likely but that is a risk.
More likely this is ass covering by the Magistrate and as long as the govt doesn’t get too goofy he will probably accede to their choices. He can’t stray too far though because he works for the Federal District CT so his bosses are watching this like a hawk and may or may not already be upset that he didn’t kick the original warrant application up the chain. Lots of angles in this drama.
Perhaps it is ass covering by the magistrate, but he probably doesn’t like being made a fool of either.
He is not immune to news, and perhaps realizes that either the FBI went beyond their ask, or embellished or neglected to include a few facts (I.e. documents may have been declassified).
Yesterday, few believed he would release anything.
Why do y’all think the FIB picked this guy to begin with?
Now do you understand?
When, in the last 6-7 years, has there NOT been some investigation of Trump been going on?
The DoJ has been hiding behind that weak crap for years in order to prevent Trump from releasing the evidence he has in his own defense. Any time he tries they have threatened him with obstruction charges. This also allows them to prevent any meaningful criticism or inquiry into their underhanded actions against him.
Good point, that’s why I think they will unveil a indictment as close to the November election to weigh votes away from Republicans yet not to far that DJT can do anything about it before the election.
Yes, but they couldn’t be certain Trump won’t do it just to spite them, so they seized it instead, just to be sure, along with any other evidence Trump might have against Hilary, Biden, Hunter, and so forth.
Seems like the same old, same old.
I’m predicting right now the criteria for the FBI redactions will be every word except “the” and “a”
As I just told my dear wife.
It’s a bit fucking late for this magistrate to suddenly be concerned about the DoJ not meeting some legal bench mark to with hold the affidavits!
The time for showing some concern about the legality of the search warrant was a couple fucking weeks ago when it turned up I’m front of him for his rubber stamp!
I’m wondering if he’s all of a sudden realised the crock of shit he signed off on OR, more fucking likely, he’s merely going through the throws and will eventually agree that what ever is released is so heavily redacted as to be worthless.
I feel like a probable cause affadavit, once acted upon, should be a matter of public record.
Why, exactly, would it be otherwise?
The only reasonable argument is if you have an informant that you need to protect. Obviously we can’t have dangerous criminals know who told them where their drugs/guns/money were being stored.
But that is absolutely NOT what the DoJ is claiming. They’re trying to hide behind the bullshit of ‘national security’.
Point taken, especially in an obviously political case preceded by a string of falsehoods by the same entity.
Of course, the search warrant should have been denied, in the first place.
It should have been denied only if the probable cause is insufficient. That’s what we suspect, but we don’t know for sure. To know, we’d have to see the entire affidavit.
“…but we don’t know for sure.”
Bullshit. We know for sure, 100% for sure. We know it’s bogus just like EVERYTHING that has come before it.
Barry has a point. The DOJ/FBI hasn’t played straight with anything concerning Trump. Why would they start now? Why should they have the benefit of the doubt? They have earned our distrust, as well as the distrust of any honest judge. It has become incumbent upon the DOJ/FBI to demonstrate their good faith.
Because the investigation is still going on. You don’t want the suspect knowing what you know, and what you’re up to. Remember that at this point the suspect has no right to any information — not even to the fact that there is an investigation in the first place. I mean he knows that, because you just searched his house. But he’s not entitled to know why you searched it, what you suspect him of, or how much you know. In a normal case none of that gets released until after there’s an indictment, which the government says it’s still very far away from.
But this case is special, mostly because no one on our side of politics trusts the FBI or the DOJ. We don’t believe they’re acting in good faith, and we demand to know what probably cause they claimed to have, so we can disprove it. That’s why we demand the affidavit be released.
The news industry does trust the FBI and DOJ, or at least pretends to; it doesn’t want to interfere with the investigation, but at the same time it hates not being able to publish something that would sell newspapers and draw in viewers. So it’s saying fine, redact what you have to, but you have to let us report something.
So it is “double secret probation” for President Trump.
Dean Wormer would be proud.
If the Gestapo gets to make the redactions, get ready for 3 or 4 pages completely blacked out.
In other words, Hillary’s bleach bit routine.
Judge is probably playing cover your ass games. I’m sure (eye roll) the judge who has a history of contributing to dems and trash talking about PDJT will be…………..impartial.
LOL, what a joke that asshole judge is.
The “judge” was selected by a corrupt FBI for a reason, and they are simply playing games to try and prove how reasonable they are in their pursuit of (in)justice.
I like how prosecutors get to shop around for a friendly judge they can cherry pick to give them exactly what they want, and then any appeals from those persecuted by the prosecutor have to go to the very same judge that’s already compromised in the case.
System seems designed based on the notion that all judges are entirely competent and free of bias, when in fact the opposite is true.
If you want to challenge his decision, the very same guy gets to decide if he made a mistake.
The warrant was extremely over-broad, and the reasons presented by DOJ for it are already proved, by their own actions and admissions, to be false.
They claimed it was urgent to get the documents, thus requiring a raid rather than a subpoena (or simply asking for them back), and then Garland sat on the warrant for weeks before having it executed. They claimed they were afraid President Trump was going to destroy the documents, and yet it is widely acknowledged that the bulk of the documents seized were related to Russiagate and the reason why President Trump declassified them and had them sent to Mar a Lago was to publish them so everyone could see the FBI’s corruption – as opposed to the typical route such documents have gone under previous POTUS where it takes decades for the public to have access (we’re just now getting to see LBJ’s stuff).
Its the FBI, CIA and DOJ that want these documents destroyed, or at least buried for decades. And, to prevent them being published they took them from President Trump based on a transparent LIE that they were afraid he might destroy them.
And the exact same Epstein Lawyer, now a a Judge, who granted the overbroad warrant gets to decide if his decision was a mistake, and if the reasons he granted it were based on transparent lies that he should have been able to see through.
We have a rigged system. One that was probably decent 50 years ago and then the left figured out how to corrupt it.
You had better go back WAY further than 50 years ago.
Imperfection and corruption certainly existed. But for the most part, sometime before 1950 we had a *decent* system. OK, that is 70 years 🙂
Kinda makes you wonder why a judge, supposedly making decisions based on law, can make different decisions such that prosecutors can “shop” them.
All the decisions should be the same.
The FBI (and the judge) wants this delayed so they can shape the battlefield by leaking their version of events.
Shame the FBI or Abuses Will Escalate
They are going to be allowed to rewrite this before releasing it? crazy
In all the decisions it should be taken into consideration that the DOJ/FBI have proven that they lie to the courts lie to the American People. Everything they do in regard to President Trump and all conservatives and all Trump supporters should be made public regardless of what it is— including no redactions of any kind no matter who what where when. There is no trust and the courts and the agencies need to acknowledge this as a FACT.
This seems like another fishing expedition. The government has had a coordinated attack against Trump ever since he announced he was running for President. They routinely fail with each attempt so they’ll continue to harass him until they believe they’ve found something they can use to disqualify him from running again. I think those harassing him with unjust legal actions should be prosecuted for abusing their office. It’s all political harassment.
There are lots of small mentions of the judge’s involvement in the Epstein fiasco, no one has noted that since the FBI is holding back on prosecuting Epstein’s clients. That gives them and inordinate amount of power to hold over the judge and get any ruling that they want – in short, play ball or you turn you over to the mob as a child molester.
You will notice that very few politicians, judges, and other government officials are ever prosecuted.
The FBI keeps a file on each of them, just as the first corrupt bastard, Hoover, did. They use that to control the process and the people.
The FBI needs to go. No reform, no replacement, just gone.
I’ve got two idle questions that I don’t think have answers yet.
1-How long did the magistrate judge have between being given the warrant and signing it. I mean if the FBI brought him the warrant on Friday afternoon and said something like “The AG has already signed off on this, we need it signed by a judge today right now. Don’t read, just sign here.” That could have rushed the judge into doing something very dumb, which he may be regretting right now as evidenced by his actions “Fool me once…”
2-Where is Weissmann? I mean an overly broad warrant issued on questionable evidence on a possible obstruction of justice charge that has no legal basis. That’s practically his signature, and I don’t remember his name coming up.
As long as the Gestapo gets to selectively redact it, it will end up saying exactly what they want anyhow.