PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (NewsNation) — The federal judge overseeing the search warrant on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home declined on Thursday to unseal the affidavit.
Instead, Judge Bruce Reinhart will allow the Justice Department until Aug. 25 to provide a redacted version to the court. The judge said there are portions of the affidavit that could be unsealed.
The affidavit prosecutors used to get the search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home could provide more intimate details as to what the Department of Justice believed was at Mar-a-Lago and why they felt the need to search the home.
Attorneys representing the news media have also fought to have the affidavit unsealed.
“I feel good about today’s hearing,” said Deanna Shullman, an attorney representing the media. “Judge Reinhart seemed to have a very good sense that it is his job as the gatekeeper in this case to balance the interest in the public of accessing these materials against the interest of the government of keeping them secret.”
There have been scant specifics released thus far from the Justice Department about what investigators were looking for in Trump’s home — other than the belief classified and top secret documents were inside. The FBI did remove classified and top secret documents from Mar-a-Lago but nothing is definitively known about what those documents pertained to.
A public release of the affidavit could shed light on those details, possibly cooling, or further heating, the volatile political rhetoric surrounding the search.
On Monday, Trump called for the affidavit’s unredacted release. He later told Fox News Digital he would do “whatever he can” to cool the rhetoric.
The Department of Justice has resisted releasing the affidavit, saying the investigation is ongoing, and releasing the document could hamper investigators’ efforts.
“If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” the DOJ wrote in a motion to keep the affidavit sealed.
The release of the search warrant used by the FBI to enter Mar-a-Lago painted a picture of the possible crimes authorities believe Trump may have committed, including violating the Espionage Act. The warrant also revealed 33 documents ranging from “top secret” to “classified” were pulled from the estate.
Trump and his legal team claim all of the documents were declassified and rightfully in his possession. The fact the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago indicates authorities do not believe that claim to be true.
Reports circulated last week that there may have been top secret and highly sensitive documents related to nuclear weapons kept at Mar-a-Lago.