UNITED STATES: The court documents that persuaded a US judge to approve a search of Donald Trump’s estate must now be made public, but with redactions removed, according to the judge’s order.
The court document known as an affidavit, which contains evidence submitted by the prosecution, may contain fresh information about the investigation in its public version.
In light of its continuing investigation, the Department of Justice objected to the publication of an uncensored version.
Sensitive documents were found from Trump’s residence
The FBI search was a component of investigating possible document handling irregularities.
Investigators claim they uncovered sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago in Florida this month. The former US president has denied any wrongdoing and maintains that he already declassified the documents.
The affidavit must be made public with redactions by noon (16:00 GMT) on Friday, according to an order issued by US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday.
“Parts of the document that would reveal the names of witnesses, law enforcement officers, and people who are not currently facing charges, as well as the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, have been redacted for compelling reasons,” according to the prosecutor.
Shortly after the justice department acknowledged that it had given the judge a copy of the affidavit with suggested redactions, he made his decision.
The affidavit, even in its redacted form, might explain why Trump is said to have taken sensitive documents with him during the turbulent closing weeks of his administration and what he did with them while they were kept in Palm Beach.
The rest could have to wait until criminal charges are brought—if they are brought at all.
On August 12, the actual search warrant, as well as a list of retrieved goods that revealed 11 sets of secret documents had been taken from the estate, were both made public.
Given the historical importance of searching a former president’s house, several news organisations have requested that the affidavit be made public. They do this by invoking the public interest in the matter.
However, the Department of Justice had objected, claiming that the disclosure of the information could result in “irreparable damage” to its current investigation.
“The paper would become meaningless if the requisite redactions weren’t made,” it added
The unredacted document has been demanded for release by Trump and his lawyers, who have characterised the Mar-a-Lago search as politically motivated and illegal.
Attempts to “hide” its contents, according to Trump’s spokesman Taylor Budowich, were “cynical” and may be used to “cover government wrongdoing.”
Trump’s legal team requested earlier this week that the probe be put on hold and that a special master be appointed to supervise the records that the FBI seized during the search.
According to the search warrant, FBI investigators wanted to determine whether Trump broke the law when he inappropriately handled official documents and moved them from the White House to Mar-a-Lago as his administration ended.
When they leave office, US presidents are expected to hand over their files and emails to the National Archives.