In less than 24 hours, we’ll all be able to see what was in the affidavit that the FBI used to get its search warrant for ex-president Donald Trump’s retirement home at Mar-a-Lago. The question is exactly how much of it we’ll get to see.
A federal magistrate judge ordered that a redacted version of the document has to be made public by noon tomorrow after reviewing the Justice Department’s proposal for which parts of the affidavit it wanted to keep secret. Affidavits, in layman’s terms, are documents that lay out a set of facts that a person or attorney swears to. While they can be used for many purposes, law enforcement agencies often submit affidavits to judges who review them to determine if there is probable cause to issue a warrant for a search or an arrest.
What we already know is that the FBI wanted to search Trump’s crib for classified documents that he absconded from Washington with after leaving office in January 2021. What we don’t know is what was in those papers—National security secrets? The identities of American spies in Russia? Colonel Sanders’ secret blend of eleven herbs and spices??—whether the FBI had sources inside of Trump’s camp or why it needed to carry out its raid so urgently.
Those things we may still not know after tomorrow’s release because of the redactions, according to the Washington Post.
The affidavit likely contains key information about the investigation into classified documents that were kept at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private resort after he left office, including why FBI agents suspect crimes may have been committed.
Until the redacted version is filed in court, the public will not know much the Justice Department has shielded from view in the affidavit and whether this version will reveal any illuminating details about the investigation.
The magistrate judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, wrote in his order today that the Justice Department had proven that it was necessary to hide some of what was in the affidavit “because disclosure would reveal (1) the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties, (2) the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and (3) grand jury information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.”
FBI agents swooped down on Trump’s residence on Aug. 8, leaving with boxes of documents that haven’t been identified. Per usual, the former president denies any wrongdoing, claims the search was illegal and politically motivated and that any documents he had with him had been declassified, by himself, of course.