Former President Trump is pushing for the full and unredacted release of the affidavit that led to the search warrant for his Mar-a-Lago estate, a move that carries risks for Trump and the Justice Department.
” Close. Trump has made it clear that the American people should be allowed to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid and burglary of his home,” Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for the former president, said Thursday after the federal magistrate judge Bruce Reinhart said. he may be willing to unseal parts of the document.
Reinhart ordered Justice Department officials to suggest redactions to the document by next Thursday.
“Today, Magistrate Judge Reinhard overturned the DOJ’s decision. [Justice Department’s] cynical attempt to hide the entire affidavit from the Americans,” Budowich continued. “However, no redactions should be necessary and the entire affidavit should be released, given the Democrats’ penchant for using redactions to hide government corruption, just as they did with the Russian hoax. “
Trump and his supporters have believed for years that the FBI and Justice Department are biased against the former president, arguing that the bureau mismonitored his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump posted separately on Truth Social, his social media platform, calling for the “immediate release” of the unredacted affidavit, citing the need for transparency. He also called on Reinhart to recuse himself from the case without giving a clear reason.
The rhetoric from Trump and his camp follows a similar playbook, experts say, in which the former president demands disclosure of potentially sensitive information.
If the government and the judge refuse to release the full, unredacted document, it allows Trump and his allies to claim that federal law enforcement is hiding something, further stoking mistrust among Trump supporters.
“It’s certainly consistent with a plan to delegitimize law enforcement and law enforcement specifically targeting him,” said Dan Richman, a law professor at Columbia University. “Because he knows, as everyone knows, that the government, whatever the case, will be opposed to the release of search warrants as an institutional matter.”
The affidavit, which was used to convince Reinhart that there was enough evidence to support probable cause necessary to obtain a search warrant, contains information about the investigation by federal law enforcement on Trump’s handling of documents marked classified after he left the White House.
The Justice Department argued that releasing the affidavit could jeopardize an ongoing investigation, as well as the sources of information in the case. Disclosure of identifying information on these sources could lead to threats. Reinhart, for example, has faced threats since signing the Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
Beyond the risks to the Justice Department, there could be risks to Trump if the full affidavit is released.
“There is a risk if it appears he was sharing information with unauthorized parties while not in office,” said a former Trump adviser, who noted that those details may ultimately come to light. redacted by the government.
Experts also pointed out that the affidavit could reveal exchanges between the Justice Department and Trump’s team discussing the need to return sensitive documents, ultimately showing that the government had made multiple good faith efforts to secure the documents in question before resorting to a search warrant.
The release of the affidavit could also carry political risks for Trump if it bolsters the case that Trump mishandled classified information.
Polls have already shown that a significant percentage of voters think Trump may have broken the law as president.
A Politico-Morning Consult poll released days after Mar-a-Lago’s research found about half of registered voters approved of the raid, although only 15% of Republicans approved. And 58% of voters said they thought Trump definitely or probably broke the law as president.
While calls for the affidavit to be released are likely to galvanize its die-hard supporters, it could ultimately create new concerns for the general public. Trump will need to gain a broader base to win the White House if he runs for president in 2024.
Richman, the Columbia law professor, said he wouldn’t expect it to be the end of the case if the judge chooses to release the affidavit with little or no redactions, saying the government would likely appeal such a decision.
“I would expect the center of the call to be the larger institutional question of whether it should be done,” Richman said. “It could set a very bad precedent for high-level research in the future.”