'A roadmap to the ongoing investigation': DOJ urges judge not to unseal affidavit that sparked Mar-a-Lago search

'A roadmap to the ongoing investigation': DOJ urges judge not to unseal affidavit that sparked Mar-a-Lago search
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More than a week has passed since FBI agents, on August 8, executed a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. According to the Washington Post, the agents were searching for classified government documents that should have remained in Washington, D.C. when Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021 — including “documents relating to nuclear weapons.”

U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland has addressed the search, noting that he personally approved the search warrant. But the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), according to The Guardian, has asked a judge to not unseal the affidavit that gave the FBI probable cause to conduct the search — as DOJ officials believe that doing so could hurt the DOJ’s investigation of Trump’s unauthorized retention of government documents.

The DOJ argued, “The affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course…. Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations.”

READ MORE: Liz Cheney blasts GOP's 'sickening comments' about FBI's Mar-a-Lago search warrant

Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, former presidents are required to give official White House records to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) when they leave office — not keep them on a private property such as Mar-a-Lago. And under the Espionage Act of 1917, classified government documents need to be carefully guarded in a government facility; Trump has claimed that any documents he was keeping at Mar-a-Lago had been declassified.

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell, in an article published on August 15, reports, “In arguing against unsealing the affidavit, the Justice Department also said that the disclosure could harm its ability to gain cooperation from witnesses not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, but also, additional ones that would appear to touch on the former president…. The existence of potential witnesses who could yet cooperate in a number of investigations against Trump — seemingly people with intimate knowledge of the former president’s activities — rattled close advisors once more Monday, further deepening distrust inside his inner political circle. The lack of insight into what the Justice Department intends to do with the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government documents has deeply frustrated the Trump legal team and aides alike in a week of perilous moments for the former president.”

The August 8 search, Lowell notes, has “sparked suspicions that a person close to the former president had become an informant for the FBI.”

“That speculation came in part amid widening knowledge about how the FBI might have established probable cause that there was a crime being committed at Mar-a-Lago using new or recent information — to prevent the probable cause from going ‘stale’ — through a confidential informant,” Lowell explains. “According to multiple sources close to Trump, suspicions initially centered on Nicholas Luna, the longtime Trump body-man who stepped back from his duties around March, and Molly Michael, the former Trump White House Oval Office operations chief, who remains on payroll but is due to soon depart.”

READ MORE: Merrick Garland files motion to unseal Mar-a-Lago search warrant request that he 'personally approved'

Lowell adds, “Luna was subpoenaed by the congressional investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack but has not spoken to the FBI about this case, one of the sources said. And although Michael is slated to also leave Trump’s orbit, the source said, her departure — like Luna’s — is not acrimonious. The focus in the middle of the week shifted to Mar-a-Lago employees and other staff at the members-only resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the sources said, seemingly in part because the FBI knew exactly which rooms and where in the rooms they needed to search.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump calls nuclear documents report a 'hoax' by 'sleazy people' in typo-riddled Truth Social rant

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