Washington: A federal judge ordered Thursday the release of the affidavit that justified the FBI raid on former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence, but accepted that the document would be heavily redacted.
The affidavit, whose unredacted version likely explains in detail what the Justice Department is investigating in relation to Trump and possibly reveals sources, must be unsealed by noon Friday (8pm UAE), Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered.
But those details could remain hidden, as Reinhart accepted Justice Department arguments that there was a “compelling” need to mask significant portions of the document.
On Monday, Reinhart had ordered at least partial disclosure of the document, saying it served the public interest in the case, as it involves the unprecedented search of the home of a former president.
Justice authorities had argued against unsealing the document, saying it would require redactions “so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content.”
FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on August 8, seizing boxes containing a large amount of highly classified documents that Trump had not returned to the government despite multiple requests and a subpoena to do so.
The warrant for the raid cited three criminal statutes, including one falling under the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to illegally obtain or retain national security information, and another on obstruction of a federal investigation.
Trump, who is weighing another White House run in 2024, has vehemently denounced the FBI raid.
“The Radical Left Democrat prosecutors are illegally trying to circumvent, for purely political gain, the Presidential Records Act, under which I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Trump said on social media Thursday.
“They illegally raided my home, and took things that should not have been taken,” he said.