Aug 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Florida judge outlines intent to unseal parts of Mar-a-Lago affidavit

Mar-A-Lago is seen August 16, 2022
Mar-a-Lago. Photo: Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Monday filed a written order reiterating his intent to unseal portions of the Mar-a-Lago affidavit.

Driving the news: "Given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence," the government has not provided sufficient reasoning to justify sealing the affidavit, Reinhart wrote.

  • "I therefore reject the government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal," he wrote.

Between the lines: In the court filing, Reinhart also mentioned the possibility of extensive redactions presented by the government.

  • "I cannot say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing further from the Government," he wrote.
  • He also gave insight into his reasons for not unsealing the affidavit completely.
  • "Given the public notoriety and controversy about this search, it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the Affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Reinhart wrote.

The big picture: Reinhart during a hearing last week signaled his openness to unseal at least parts of the affidavit when he gave the Department of Justice this week to file a redacted version of the document.

  • The Justice Department has argued for the affidavit to remain sealed, contending that its release "would provide a road map and suggest next investigative steps we are about to take," the Washington Post reports.

What to watch: The Justice Department has until Thursday to file its redacted affidavit, which could provide new details of the investigation, including the probable cause that warranted the search.

  • Reinhart also said Monday that the government can provide "any additional evidence or legal argument" relevant to its opposition to unsealing.

Go deeper: Florida judge orders government to submit redacted Mar-a-Lago affidavit

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