Lawyers for the Justice Department asked the judge on Monday who approved the Search warrant for the former president donald trumpof the resort town of Mar-a-Lago to keep the accompanying affidavit sealed, citing the need to protect witnesses and the ongoing investigation.
Federal prosecutors have responded to requests from numerous news outlets, including NBC News, to release the affidavit by saying it should remain sealed “to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation. which involves national security”.
They also said the affidavit contains “very sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law to be kept under seal.
The affidavit contains the government’s reasoning for conducting the search of Trump’s home. Trump allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere demanded that the Justice Department unseal the affidavit.
“Disclosure at this stage of the affidavit in support of probable cause would cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Chief of Counterintelligence and Oversight Department of Justice Exports, Jay Bratt, wrote in Monday’s court filing.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement on his social media platform late Monday evening, Trump called for the “immediate release” of the affidavit “in the interest of TRANSPARENCY.”
When asked if the former president would file a motion to release the affidavit, against federal prosecutors, Trump attorney Christina Bobb told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that she was “not aware of any effort to oppose” the unsealing of the affidavit.
“We’re just following the case that’s already underway and watching what happens in response,” she added, without committing to filing a motion to release the document.
The Justice Department’s request to keep the affidavit secret comes after a federal judge on Friday unsealed the search warrant that FBI agents used to seize documents from Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida on August 8.
The property receipt for the items recovered by the FBI shows that the agents recovered a treasure trove of top secret documents and other highly classified documents. Some documents have been described as “SCI” documents, which stands for highly classified “sensitive compartmented information”.
Prosecutors said in their filing on Monday that the government has no objection to the disclosure of other documents filed as part of the search warrant, documents that they say would not compromise the integrity of the investigation.
But they said revealing the affidavit would “undermine” their investigation.
“If released, the affidavit will serve as a roadmap for the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to jeopardize future stages of the investigation. ‘investigation,’ they wrote.
Many of Trump’s allies have defended the former president amid fallout from the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid and are calling for the affidavit to be made public.
In letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Monday, several Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee demanded copies of documents and communications relating to the execution of the warrant search before August 29.
Ryan J. Reilly contributed.