(The Hill) — The Justice Department on Monday told a federal judge that releasing the law enforcement affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for former President Trump’s home would jeopardize an ongoing investigation.
Federal prosecutors submitted a court filing opposing any efforts to unseal the document laying out probable cause for the search. The filing came just days after they agreed to release a copy of the warrant itself as well as a receipt listing the materials that were seized during the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“The affidavit supporting the search warrant presents a very different set of considerations,” the filing reads. “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.”
Prosecutors typically submit affidavits from law enforcement officials when seeking a judge’s authorization for a search warrant. These documents are meant to provide an overview of evidence collected during an investigation that would support the probable cause needed to obtain a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.
The court filing submitted Monday — which was signed by Jay Bratt, the head of the DOJ’s counterintelligence office, and Juan Antonio Gonzalez, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida — argued that disclosing the affidavit used to secure the Mar-a-Lago warrant would cause “significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.”
“As the Court is aware from its review of the affidavit, 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 DOJ officials wrote, citing a rule governing grand jury secrecy.
They argued that revealing sensitive information about the investigation could also affect law enforcement’s ability to secure cooperation from potential witnesses and risk revealing identifying details about any witnesses who are already working with investigators.
“This is not merely a hypothetical concern, given the widely reported threats made against law enforcement personnel in the wake of the August 8 search,” reads a footnote in the filing.
Several news organizations had submitted motions in court to unseal material used in the warrant application, most of which were filed prior to the warrant’s release on Friday. The Justice Department on Monday asked that a federal magistrate judge decide the matter without convening a hearing.