Judge appears poised to keep much of Mar-a-Lago affidavit sealed – to protect Trump

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Federal magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in a published a 13-page written order released Monday morning says one of the reasons to not unseal the affidavit used to justify the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence is doing so might hamper efforts used to protect the former president.

Judge Reinhardt’s order offers several reasons for and against unsealing the affidavit.

Politico senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney notes “Trump’s own personal safety” is one of the reasons Reinhart offers for not unsealing the affadavit.

“The Affidavit discusses physical aspects of the Premises,” the judge writes, referring to Mar-a-Lago, “which is a location protected by the United States Secret Service. Disclosure of those details could affect the Secret Service’s ability to carry out its protective function. This factor weighs in favor of sealing.”

Cheney also points to the section of the order that discusses whether or not Trump had (or still has) classified documents related to nuclear secrets, unsealing the affidavit would expose the “sources and methods” the Dept. of Justice “used to gather those facts.”

“In any event, these arguments ignore that the contents of the Affidavit identify not just the facts known to the Government, but the sources and methods (i.e., the witnesses and the investigative techniques) used to gather those facts. That information is not known to the public. For the reasons discussed above, the Government has a compelling reason not to publicize that information at this time.”

CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy says in the order, “Reinhart itemizes recent incidents of intimidation/harassment, and says ‘it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the Affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media … which could lead to them being harassed.'”

Portnoy adds: “But, Reinhart says, prosecutors have met their ‘burden of showing good cause’ to not have its full contents unsealed.”

Reinhart also warns, presumably Trump allies, to not try to destroy the credibility of the process used to obtain the search warrant, or the justice system.

“I do not give much weight to the remaining factors relevant to whether the common law right of access requires unsealing of the Affidavit,” he writes, which Cheney points to. “Allowing access to the unredacted Affidavit would not impair court functions. Having carefully reviewed the Affidavit before signing the Warrant, I was and am – satisfied that the facts sworn by the affiant are reliable. So, releasing the Affidavit to the public would not cause false information to be disseminated. There is no indication that the Intervenors seek these records for any illegitimate purpose.”

MSNBC’s reporting states the judge may decide to not release any of the affidavit.

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