Justice Department attorneys on Monday asked the judge who approved the search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort to seal the accompanying affidavit, citing the need to protect witnesses and the ongoing investigation.
Federal prosecutors responded to requests from numerous news organizations, including NBC News, to release the affidavit by stating that it must remain sealed “to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that threatens national security.”
They also said the affidavit contains “highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific research techniques; and information required by law to be sealed.”
The affidavit contains the administration’s reasons for conducting Trump’s search. Trump allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have asked the Justice Department to disclose the affidavit.
“Disclosure at this time of the affidavit supporting the probable cause would cause significant and irreparable harm to this ongoing criminal investigation,” U.S. attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence and export control chief Jay Bratt wrote. in Monday’s court filing.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement on his social media platform late Monday, Trump called for the “immediate release” of the affidavit “in the interest of TRANSPARENCY”.
When asked if the former president would file a motion to release the affidavit, contrary to federal prosecutors, Trump attorney Christina Bobb told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that she was “not aware of any attempt to to oppose” the disclosure of the affidavit.
“We’re just following the lead of the case already underway and seeing what happens in response,” she added, without committing to a motion to demand release of the document.
The Department of Justice’s request to keep the affidavit secret comes after a federal judge Friday unsealed the search warrant that FBI agents used to seize documents from Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on Aug. 8.
The receipt of ownership of items recovered by the FBI shows that agents have recovered a wealth of top secret and other top secret documents. Some documents were described as ‘SCI’ documents, which stands for highly classified ‘sensitive compartmentalized information’.
Prosecutors said in their filing Monday that the government did not oppose the disclosure of other material filed in connection with the search warrant, documents they said would not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.
But they said revealing the affidavit would “endanger” their investigation.
“If the affidavit is made public, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap for the government’s ongoing investigation, detailing its direction and likely course, in a way that is very likely to jeopardize future investigative steps,” they wrote. .
Many Trump allies have defended the former president amid the fallout from the FBI search for Mar-a-Lago and are calling for the affidavit to be made public.
In letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Monday, several House Judiciary Committee Republicans demanded copies of documents and communications related to the execution of the search warrant by Aug. 29.
Ryan J. Reilly contributed.