“The fact that this investigation includes highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and increases the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or inappropriately,” the DOJ officials wrote.
Instead, DOJ is urging the court to unseal a redacted document containing additional filings related to the search warrant, including a cover sheet, DOJ’s request to seal the warrant on Aug. 5, and the seal warrant of the judge issued the same day.
One of the DOJ’s concerns about releasing the underlying information is that witnesses may become uncooperative, especially “given the high-profile nature of this case.”
“Disclosing the government’s affidavit at this stage would likely also enhance the future collaboration of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” Gonzalez and Bratt said, adding: “This is not just a hypothetical concern, given the widespread threats against law enforcement in the wake of the August 8 search.”
Throughout the filing, DOJ refers to the ongoing criminal investigation related to the search — an investigation that came to light last week with the search warrant’s release and includes potential crimes related to mishandling classified material and presidential records. as well as obstruction of justice. Revealing the affidavit, DOJ noted Monday, would jeopardize that investigation.
“Here, the government has a compelling, overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation,” the DOJ officials argued.
The filing cites news reports of an increase in threats against FBI agents and an attack by an armed man on an FBI building in Cincinnati last week.
While the magistrate overseeing the case, Bruce Reinhart, is not bound by the DOJ’s request to maintain the secrecy of the affidavit, it would be an extremely rare move, even in cases of less national importance. DOJ acknowledged the decision is Reinhart’s, saying that if he chooses to release the affidavit, the department would suggest significant editorials “so comprehensive that the remaining unsealed text is devoid of meaningful content.”
“Releasing such an edited version would serve no public interest whatsoever,” Gonzalez and Bratt wrote.
House and Senate lawmakers in both parties have demanded additional details regarding the search conducted at Trump’s home, which was linked to an attempt to find top-secret documents and other presidential records that Trump had kept there. to get.
Affidavits that support search warrants are typically sealed until charges are filed or an investigation is closed. They are usually provided by an FBI agent involved in the case and testify to the reasons why the agency believes there is a probable cause of a crime.
Nicholas Wu and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.