Mar-a-Lago search: Judge orders release of redacted affidavit

A judge on Thursday ordered the release of a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a warrant to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month, court records show.

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Update 3:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 25: In an order filed in court, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said the redacted affidavit must be filed on the public docket on or before noon Friday.

Reinhart said that the government showed that it had good reason to seal parts of the affidavit to protect “the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties” and details of “the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods.” He also determined that the proposed redactions “are narrowly tailored to serve the Government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit.”

Earlier, the government opposed efforts to unseal a redacted version of the affidavit. In court records, officials said the redactions needed “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.”

Original report: The Justice Department on Thursday is expected to file a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a warrant to search the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.

A magistrate judge has ordered the DOJ to supply its redacted version of the affidavit before he considers whether he will release the document to the public.

The DOJ has until noon Thursday to submit the redacted document, in addition to a memorandum that explains why the agency wants to keep hidden certain parts of the affidavit.

The agency said last week that if it made all the redactions to the document it deemed necessary to protect the integrity of the case, the affidavit would be “meaningless.”

Jay Bratt, a senior Justice Department official who represented the agency in court last week, said it would not be “practical” to put out a version of the affidavit that redacted the material. “There would be nothing of substance,” he said.

“It doesn’t serve the media’s interest to give them something that is meaningless,” Bratt said.

A Trump spokesman said the former president supported the release of the affidavit. Taylor Budowich said Trump “has made his view clear that the American people should be permitted to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid and break-in of his home.”

Several media organizations have called on the court to make the affidavit public. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has said he does not want to keep the entire document sealed, but will consider the DOJ’s request to withhold some parts.