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Judge Leaves Open Possibility Redactions In Mar-a-Lago Affidavit May Make It ‘Meaningless’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Judge Bruce Reinhart has rejected an argument from the Department of Justice and admitted the FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was “unprecedented.”

In a Monday morning filing, Reinhart rejected the Justice Department’s argument to keep the affidavit “sealed,” citing the “intense public and historical interest.”

Reinhart wrote that he rejects “the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”

“The Government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the Affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases,” Reinhart wrote. “I do not need to reach the question of whether, in some other case, these concerns could justify denying public access; they very well might.”

He added: “Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”

Reinhart said he has given the Justice Department an “opportunity to propose redactions if I declined to seal the entire Affidavit,” something he granted last week, giving the government a deadline of Thursday, Aug. 25 at noon.

“Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that by the deadline, the Government shall file under seal a submission addressing possible redactions and providing any additional evidence or legal argument that the Government believes relevant to the pending Motions to Unseal,” the motion states.

During the highly anticipated hearing in the West Palm Beach Division of Florida last Thursday, Reinhart said he will unseal some of the procedural filings currently under seal on the search warrant docket.

“I am not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed,” the judge said, meaning that, at minimum, some of the affidavit will be revealed.

“According to the judge’s comments, the filings are the Department of Justice’s motion to seal the warrant documents, the order granting that sealing request, and the criminal cover sheet,” CNN reported.

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Jay Bratt, a Justice Department lawyer, argued that allowing the public to read the affidavit would “provide a roadmap to the investigation,” and would indicate the next steps in the probe.

“In this case, the court has found probable cause there’s a violation of one of the obstruction statutes, and that evidence of obstruction would be found at Mar-a-Lago” said Jay Bratt, who heads the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section.

The “public has a ‘clear and powerful’ interest in understanding the unprecedented investigation in former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified records,” the media organizations including CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post said.

The Department of Justice argued that the affidavit should stay sealed.

“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 said.

But the former president has called for it to be shown to everyone.

“In the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN,” he said. “Also, the Judge on this case should recuse!”

The judge faced criticism and even threats after it was discovered that he had recused himself from a lawsuit involving Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Last week, one of the personal attorneys for former President Donald Trump demanded to know why the judge who signed the warrant to search his private house had recused himself from a lawsuit against 2016 Democrat Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.

The attorney, Alina Habba, said that this judge recused himself from the former president’s lawsuit against Clinton this year when she spoke to Fox News host Jesse Watters on Friday, The Daily Mail reported.

“They needed a little drama, so they throw this out there. They go to the judge that had recused himself in my Hillary case a month ago,” she said.

“I would like to know why he recused himself in that case, but then he was able to sign this warrant. I want to know that,” she said.

It was on June 22 when Judge Bruce W. Reinhart recused himself from the Trump lawsuit against Clinton.

Then, six weeks later, the same judge signed the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago.

What could have been the reason the judge would have felt the need to recuse himself from the Trump lawsuit against Clinton but not on the Trump warrant?

And it gets more interesting.

In his recusal, the judge said, “The undersigned Magistrate Judge, to whom the above-styled cause has been assigned, hereby recuses himself and refers the case to the Clerk of Court for reassignment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455.”

The code he referred to says, “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Another attorney for former President Donald Trump has spoken on what she witnessed during the raid of his Florida home by the FBI.

His attorney, Lindsey Halligan, spoke with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday and warned that the search was more concerning than the former president being targeted.

“So I arrived around 11:00 a.m. and there were about 30-40 FBI agents that I saw, either of which were wearing suits, the rest were in cargo pants, masks, and gloves. And they basically had unfettered access to the property. They refused to talk to me. They refused to let me in. All I knew is that they were searching areas one, two, and three, which I understood to be the former president’s bedroom, his office, and a storage room. And other than that, we were not allowed to talk to them or go inside at all,” she said.

“That’s the thing. They had unfettered access to the property. They looked at god knows what in there and did god knows what in there. We have no idea. What the FBI did was an appalling display of abuse of power. All documents requested were previously handed over. President Trump and his team painstakingly reviewed every single document at Mar-a-Lago and gave the government what they requested. If they needed any other documents, they could have just asked. And the warrant was secured under seal, so they tried to get away with concealing this overreach by obtaining a warrant under seal. Nobody knew about it,” the attorney said.

“They knew that President Trump was in Bedminster and hasn’t been at Mar-a-Lago for some time. They thought they could sneak in, snoop around without attorneys present and in case they walked out with nothing, so nobody would know that they overreached this degree. It’s unprecedented in United States history. The government seems to be out of control. It’s plagued with manipulation, corruption, greed, and fraud,” she said.





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