Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
It is looking ever more likely that the Justice Department will have to show at least some of the affidavit that the FBI used to obtain a search warrant for former President Trump’s Florida home.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ruled Thursday that the Justice Department has one week to submit a redacted version of the affidavit and further stated that the entirety of the affidavit would remain sealed until any appeals processes played out, indicating that he is leaning towards unsealing portions of the document.
“I find that on the present record the Government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed,” Reinhart said in the brief order. “I’m not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed.”
As previously reported on FISM, the Justice Department argues that its case against Trump would be compromised if the affidavit is unsealed. The department further contends that public response to the unsealing of the search warrant and its inventory has led to public anger and threats against agents.
Most notably, the Justice Department has indicated that it plans to redact the affidavit to such a degree that no meaningful content will remain.
It is important to note that this is all just a contention from one side of what isn’t even a case, and the Trump side can appeal and counter that the DOJ’s redactions are overbroad or too restrictive. Ultimately, Reinhart could accept, reject, or require modifications to the forthcoming redacted report.
This week, the FBI confirmed that it did temporarily possess three of Trump’s passports.
According to an NBC News report, a department spokesperson confirmed federal officials had taken Trump’s passports on Aug. 8, but that they’d since been returned.
There was previously a lack of clarity regarding If the FBI has ever possessed a Trump passport, and Trump went so far as to accuse agents of stealing them.
Trump seeks to chip away at raid credibility
Meanwhile, Trump continues to build his case in the public eye that the FBI raid was unfounded. Thursday on Truth Social, Trump linked to a pair of websites, each of which served to attack his accusers from a different angle.
First, he shared a link to an archived version of the White House website that contains a presidential memorandum from Jan. 19, 2020, Trump’s last day in office.
In this memorandum, Trump declassified a binder of materials linked to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, the name given to the FBI’s efforts to confirm or deny Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
“I determined that the materials in that binder should be declassified to the maximum extent possible,” Trump’s memorandum reads. “In response, and as part of the iterative process of the declassification review, under a cover letter dated January 17, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted its continuing objection to any further declassification of the materials in the binder and also, on the basis of a review that included Intelligence Community equities, identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure. I have determined to accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI in that January 17 submission.”
The most important portion of the memorandum, certainly according to Trump, reads, “I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder. This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.”
There are, as yet, many unknowns about what this memorandum might mean. It’s not clear if the documents referenced represent all, some, or no portion of the documents confiscated by the FBI.
What is clear is that Trump wants to build a case that he declassified all documents that went with him to Florida.
Shortly after his first post, the former president also shared a link to a story in which Real Clear Investigations reported that FBI officials who raided Mar-A-Lago had previously participated in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. This is not necessarily a controversial revelation as FBI agents are allowed to participate in related investigations.
However, as Trump builds his defense against the FBI, who he describes as being politically motivated, sharing such a story (as well as accusations of theft) is a means of portraying himself as the victim of biased investigators.