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Affidavit in Trump Search Should Be Redacted Before Possible Unsealing, Judge Says

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A federal judge ordered the federal government on Thursday to propose redactions to the highly sensitive affidavit that was used to justify a search warrant executed by the F.B.I. last week at former President Donald J. Trump’s private home and club, saying he was inclined to unseal parts of it.

Ruling from the bench, the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, said it was “very necessary” that the general public have as “much information” as it could concerning the search at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida residence, noting that there have been portions of the affidavit that “may very well be presumptively unsealed.”

“Whether those portions could be meaningful for the general public or the media,” Judge Reinhart added, was not for him to come to a decision. He acknowledged that the redaction process can often be extensive and effectively turn documents into “meaningless gibberish.”

Judge Reinhart’s decision struck a middle course between the Justice Department, which desired to keep the affidavit entirely under wraps as its investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents continued, and a gaggle of reports organizations, which requested that or not it’s released in full to the general public.

Warrant affidavits — that are written and sworn to by federal agents before a search takes place — contain detailed details about criminal investigations and are almost at all times kept under seal until charges are filed.

As a part of his ruling, Judge Reinhart ordered the federal government to send him under seal proposed redactions to the warrant affidavit by next Thursday at noon. He said he would review the suggestions and judge if he agreed with them.

“That is going to be a considered, careful process,” Judge Reinhart said.

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