WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has asked a court to keep an affidavit that led to the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week under seal, warning that its disclosure could cause “significant and irreparable damage” to its ongoing criminal investigation.
Media outlets and conservative organizations have called on the department to allow the affidavit to be released, and several, including the Miami Herald, have filed motions in court stating that its disclosure is in the public interest.
But the affidavit — in which the Justice Department offered a narrative of its investigation to date, and outlined probable cause that crimes were committed — should remain sealed “to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security,” the Justice Department said in its motion on Monday.
“It contains, among other critically important and detailed investigative facts: highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law to be kept under seal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e),” the Justice Department filing reads.
The reference to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) is confirmation that the government has impaneled a grand jury in its investigation.
“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,” it adds.
Last week, the Justice Department moved to unseal its search warrant of Trump’s Palm Beach home, revealing that classified material was being stored at the former president’s home.
The warrant also revealed that the search was part of an investigation into potential violations of the Espionage Act, destruction of government records and obstruction of justice.
“This investigation implicates highly classified materials,” the government’s motion says.
The Justice Department said in its Monday filing that it would still be willing to release additional documents “in connection with the search warrant whose unsealing would not jeopardize the integrity of this national security investigation, subject to minor redactions to protect government personnel.”
Those could include the cover sheets for the government’s initial search warrant application, its motion to keep it under seal, and the court’s sealing order.
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