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Judge says FBI evidence for Mar-a-Lago search ‘reliable’

Reinhart decided last week that he would consider unsealing portions of the affidavit after speaking with the Justice Department and determining whether the proposed redactions would be sufficient to protect the ongoing criminal investigation related to the search. . But in his order, Reinhart stressed that he could ultimately agree with prosecutors that any redactions would be so significant as to render the document useless.

“I cannot say at this point that the partial redactions will be so significant that they result in meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately come to this conclusion after hearing more from the government,” Reinhart wrote.

The new order underscores the historic importance of a generally secretive part of the criminal investigative process, coming just as Trump indicated he was preparing to mount his own attack on the FBI investigation in court. The Justice Department is to offer potential redactions by Thursday, presaging a potentially lengthy negotiation process with Reinhart and possible appeals.

In his order, Reinhart noted that “neither former President Trump nor anyone claiming to be the owner of the premises has filed a brief taking a position” on the efforts to unseal the affidavit.

Reinhart also rejected the claim that disclosing aspects of the affidavit would set a dangerous precedent, given the singular historical significance of this case.

“Given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of the residence of a former president, the government has yet to demonstrate that these administrative concerns are sufficient to warrant sealing,” Reinhart said.

Reinhart’s order echoed his decision to shoot down an effort by media organizations and the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch to unseal the entire FBI affidavit. Reinhart acknowledged that some news reports had already pointed to the significance of what might have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago — some news stories described nuclear-related information and other documents related to highly classified government programs. But he said these anonymous reports, whether true or not, reveal nothing about the sources and methods used by the government to obtain its evidence.

“Disclosure of these facts would harm this investigation and future investigations,” Reinhart wrote, adding, “The government has a compelling reason not to release this information at this time.”

Reinhart also echoed the government’s concern about threats against those involved in the investigation if identifying information is leaked via court documents. He cited reports of threats against the FBI and the recent attack by a gunman on an FBI building in Cincinnati, although he did not mention that he himself had been the subject. of threats.

“Given the public notoriety and controversy surrounding this research, it is likely that even witnesses not expressly named in the affidavit would be quickly and widely identified on social media and other communication channels, thereby which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Reinhart noted.

Another reason to keep the affidavit sealed? Trump and his family’s personal protection by the Secret Service. Reinhart noted that the document describes the physical characteristics of Mar-a-Lago.

“Release of these details could affect the Secret Service’s ability to perform its protective function,” he wrote. “This factor works in favor of waterproofing.”


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