From the moment of the FBI raid on his family home in Mar-a-Lago in Florida, former President Donald Trump has called for transparency for the FBI and DOJ, and for the search warrant to be unsealed and made public.
Trump posted on August 15, “in the interest of TRANSPARENCY I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN.”
Since the raid, Trump has accused the U.S. government of not providing him “with any reason for the unprecedented, general search of his home.”
He also alleged the FBI took “privileged and/or potentially privileged materials,” and other articles “that were outside the lawful reach of an already overbroad warrant.”
Trust in the FBI has decreased after the unprecedented raid, with a Rasmussen poll published Aug. 18 finding 44% of likely U.S. voters said the raid made them trust the bureau less, compared to 29% who said they actually trust the FBI more.
Republicans in particular have increasingly become weary of the FBI in past years, with a 2018 poll from PennState finding just 39% of Republicans trusted the FBI to do what is right “most of the time” or “just about always.”
The PennState poll also found 54% of Republicans felt the FBI was “biased against President Trump and his agenda.”
When the DOJ did not release the affidavit of the warrant, it became obvious they were redacting parts of it.
Possibly perceiving this bias, Trump filed a motion Monday requesting a “special master” be appointed to independently oversee the review of the items taken from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s lawyers asked the federal judge to halt the DOJ’s search of “seized materials” until the “special master” is appointed in the filing.
“We have just filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida strongly asserting my rights, including under the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution, regarding the unnecessary, unwarranted, and unAmerican Break-In by dozens of FBI agents and others, of my home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump stated in the motion.
The affidavit was meant to shed light on the reasoning behind the Mar-a-Lago raid.
Everyone has been waiting for this reasoning.
Several news organizations such as CNN and The New York Times pushed for the release amid heightened public interest and scrutiny.
But Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the agency to submit redactions to the affidavits following his rejection of their push to keep the document private.
Reinhart — who is the judge who signed off on the search warrant used in the FBI’s raid — approved the redactions Thursday.
The DOJ finally released the highly redacted affidavit Friday after Reinhart’s approval.
Upon the release, it became apparent that the DOJ redacted nearly the entire search warrant.
Trump posted, “Affidavit heavily redacted! Nothing mentioned on “Nuclear” a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI and DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover – WE GAVE THEM MUCH. Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home. He reclused himself tow months ago from one of my cases based on his animosity of your favorite president, me. What changed? Why hasn’t he reclused himself on this case?”
The DOJ reasons for the redacting of massive portions of the document include the directions by Judge Reinhart to do so.
Forbes reported that the redacted version of the affidavit stated “The government is conducting a criminal investigation in to ‘improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records.”
Trump has repeatedly stated that he himself declassified the documents before he left office.
He has also stated that the FBI previously visited Mar-a-Lago and upon being shown where the documents were stored requested a lock be added to the door of the storage room, which the former president then had installed.
Forbes states that “The FBI believed there was probable cause there would be ‘evidence of obstruction’ at Mar-a-Lago when it searched the premises, along with additional documents that Trump and his legal team did not initially turn over to the government.”
Forbes reports more reasons for the search having to do with the “classification” of the documents (which Trump states were declassified) and the location and state of the storage area (which the FBI had previously inspected).
Now it seems that the DOJ has redacted most of their reasons for redacting massive portions of the affidavit.
The only justification not redacted is “agent safety,” while every other reason for the redactions is redacted.
The Week reports:
“Quite comically, the DOJ actually redacted portions of the documents in which it is explaining the reationale behind the redactions. As a result…many of the pages didn’t reveal much.”
The DOJ said the decision was made to protect the witnesses and that the raid is justified.
MORE: Here is "a chart identifying the
government's proposed redactions as belonging to different categories of protected
information," per the DOJ. But, as you can see, it's really hard to say. https://t.co/nqiAZfIWym pic.twitter.com/XgaZOVFojX
— Chris “Subscribe to Law Dork!” Geidner (@chrisgeidner) August 26, 2022
So much for transparency. pic.twitter.com/BiZpMMqz2l
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) August 26, 2022