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DOJ opposes unsealing Trump raid affidavit requested by news orgs

Former President of the United States Donald Trump at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., July 24, 2022. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 15, 2022

The U.S. Department of Justice revealed in court filings on Monday that it opposes unsealing the affidavit that led to the search warrant approving the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence. Multiple news media organizations have requested the affidavit be unsealed.

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“There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed,” the court filing said.

The department claimed that unsealing the affidavit would compromise the investigation because it would provide a “roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation” and expose “specific details about its direction and likely course.”

They further claimed that the affidavit contains “highly sensitive information about witnesses” and exposing it could infringe on their civil liberties, as well as impact their cooperation.

“Information about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation,” the filing said, adding that unsealing “would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations.”

DOJ officials claim that the department considered releasing a redacted version of the affidavit, but ultimately determined that such redactions “would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.”

The search warrant to raid Trump’s home unsealed on Friday revealed that the FBI is investigating Trump for a potential violation of the Espionage Act, as well as the removal or destruction of records and obstruction of an investigation. Conviction of such crimes can result in fines or imprisonment.

The FBI raided Trump’s home on Aug 8, and seized more than 20 boxes of materials, including binders of photos, a handwritten note, the executive grant of clemency for Roger Stone, and information about the “President of France,” according to an official list of the items that were removed during the search.

Trump criticized the FBI raid as an unprecedented abuse of law enforcement power, describing it as “totally unheard of and unthinkable” and “a sneak attack on democracy.”