The Department of Justice has asked the judge who signed off on the search warrant for the FBI’s unprecedented raid of a former president’s home to keep the affidavit that was a pretext for the raid sealed.
“The Justice Department intends to unseal additional documents connected to the FBI search at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate but is urging a federal court to maintain the secrecy of the sworn affidavit describing the basis for the search,” Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported.
“The DOJ is particularly concerned that the release of details from the affidavit might harm ongoing efforts to interview witnesses, given the threats to federal agents in wake of the Mar-a-Lago search,” the report claimed.
“If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said in a filing urging the continued secrecy of the affidavit.
“The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly,” the DOJ officials wrote.
The Department of Justice’s rationale for maintaining the search warrant affidavit’s secrecy is a familiar one to those who watched the the department’s behavior during the Russiagate scandal, the Mueller investigation, and the Ukraine impeachment hoax. The DOJ claims that providing the public with transparency about why the FBI raided a former president and political rival of the current president before the midterm elections might compromise state secrets and agency methods.
“On August 8, 2022, the Department of Justice executed a search warrant at the premises located at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Florida 33480, a property of former President Donald J. Trump,” the DOJ states. “Given the circumstances presented in this matter and the public interest in transparency, and in the wake of the former President’s public confirmation of the search and his representatives’ public characterizations of the materials sought, the government moved to unseal the search warrant, its attachments, and the Property Receipt summarizing materials seized, which motion this Court granted.”
“Those docketed items, which had already been provided to the former President’s counsel upon execution of the warrant, have now appropriately been made public,” the DOJ continues. The affidavit supporting the search warrant presents a very different set of considerations. There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed.”
The entire legal document can be read below:
The search warrant lists three crimes, which are summarized in import by the legal analyst TechnoFog:
- 18 USC § 793 – also called the Espionage Act. This statute “prohibits communicating, transmitting, or delivering to any person not entitled to receive it ‘any document, writing, … or note relating to the national defense,’ or attempting to do so.”1
- 18 USC § 2071. This law prohibits the removal of “any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office. . .”
- 18 USC § 1519. This statute prohibits the destruction of “any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.” As you can imagine, the press is giddy with allegations the former President violated the Espionage Act.
The FBI’s search warrant can be viewed in full below.
There is an attachment that proves that the FBI’s search warrant was overly broad. Attachment B shows the investigative scope to be both classified and unclassified documents, evidence of transmission of “national defense information or classified material,” and evidence relating to the alternation/destruction of “Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”
Attachment B, subsection c, clearly states: “Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021.”
This confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that the FBI was undertaking a fishing expedition. As The Federalist’s Sean Davis noted:
Under "Attachment B" of the FBI raid document, Garland demanded the seizure of literally any record Trump ever saw, read, or created over the entire 4-year term of his presidency: "Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021."— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) August 12, 2022
“Under ‘Attachment B’ of the FBI raid document, Garland demanded the seizure of literally any record Trump ever saw, read, or created over the entire 4-year term of his presidency,” Davis notes. “Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021.”