DOJ battles in court to keep Mar-a-Lago warrant details secret

Reinhart was the target of an onslaught of anti-Semitic threats and attacks directed at him. It’s possible he could respond to extreme rhetoric from some of the former president’s allies. In the federal court system, magistrates such as Reinhart are appointed by district court judges. He has held his position since 2018.

Some Republican lawmakers have harshly criticized Reinhart and accused him, baselessly, of bias against Trump. Trump and his allies also attacked the FBI for alleged political motives in the search for Mar-a-Lago, and claimed, without evidence, that materials had been planted there. Trump’s attorney and family members said the former president and his allies watched the search unfold from a distance via security cameras at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s lawyer, Christina Bobb, was spotted in the courthouse on Thursday, although the former president’s lawyers were not due to present arguments. It’s unclear whether Reinhart will invite Trump’s lawyers to address the court. Bobb told reporters she was there to observe.

Trump has repeatedly stepped up his attacks on the FBI even as the agency warned of a barrage of violent threats against personnel. A gunman was fatally shot by police last week after attempting to raid an FBI office in Cincinnati, and a Pennsylvania man was arrested earlier this week after threatening to kill FBI agents.

In court filings, the Justice Department opposed releasing the underlying affidavit related to the search warrant, citing potential harm to the department’s ongoing criminal investigation and risk to “highly classified” information. This could impair witness cooperation, provide a “road map” for the investigation and jeopardize future steps, the DOJ said.

Instead, the DOJ asked the judge to unseal another set of documents related to the warrant, including a cover sheet, the Justice Department’s Aug. 5 motion to seal the warrant, and the judge’s order granting this request.

The media and conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch have argued for the unsealing of the affidavit – which will include an FBI agent’s sworn statement about the likely cause of the search – citing the public interest in disclosure . In a filing Wednesday, a group of media organizations including CNN, CBS and McClatchy argued that the public had a clear interest in viewing the affidavit given the intense research attention and nature event history. Judicial Watch and the media agreed that some redactions of the affidavit would likely be necessary to preserve the Justice Department’s legitimate interests in the ongoing investigation.

The Justice Department’s vehement opposition to releasing more details about the investigation into the documents kept at Mar-a-Lago could complicate surveillance efforts on Capitol Hill, where several top lawmakers have already demanded a series of information from DOJ and intelligence officials. It will ultimately be up to Reinhart or a more experienced judge or court to decide whether Congress can obtain the affidavit and other documents.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have previously asked the Justice Department to provide copies of all classified documents that have been seized. from Mar-a-Lago. They also requested that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence establish an “assessment of potential national security risks”, a spokesman for the committee said.

So far, this is the only request for bipartisan surveillance related to the search of Trump’s Florida residence. But the executive branch has consistently resisted congressional investigations into ongoing law enforcement actions, arguing that doing so could jeopardize the investigation. The Justice Department made a similar argument earlier this week when prosecutors explained why they opposed releasing the probable cause affidavit.

Some legislators are confronting this precedent head-on. Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), for example, said that in addition to releasing the search warrant, the Justice Department should also have explained why it was necessary to execute a search warrant at the home of Trump.


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