At least part of the probable cause affidavit leading to the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid may be revealed soon. After numerous media outlets filed motions with the federal court, US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart held a hearing Thursday, August 18, to review calls to make public the sealed documents pertaining to the search. He decided that the full affidavit should not remain sealed, though that decision could be appealed.
Though Attorney General Merrick Garland did publicly confirm the search nearly a week after it happened, he revealed no information about the operation itself. Aside form his brief address and the unsealing of the search warrant, there has been no public government response. In light of the dearth of details and the claims made by Trump against the DOJ, numerous media outlets – both conservative and liberal in bias – have filed motions to unseal the probable cause affidavit. As The New York Times put it, “The investigation has been made public by the target of the warrant himself, details of the investigation have appeared in publications throughout the world, members of Congress have demanded that the Justice Department provide an explanation, and political commentary on the search continues unabated. In short, with so much publicity surrounding the search, the Court should be skeptical about government claims that disclosure of this true information will invade privacy, disturb the confidentiality of an investigation, tip off potential witnesses, or lead to the destruction of evidence.”
The DOJ, on the other hand, argued that publishing the full affidavit would reveal too much of an ongoing investigation, and might scare future witnesses out of testifying. Jay Bratt, head of the DOJ’s counterintelligence section, reportedly argued that it would “provide a roadmap to the investigation,” CNN reported earlier in the day.
Judge Reinhart’s order give the government until August 25 at noon to propose redactions, at which time he will review the suggestions and decide how to proceed from there. He also reminded everyone that if the government or media object to his redactions, which will also be under seal, they can appeal the ruling.