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Trump Mar-a-Lago raid search warrant: DOJ files proposed redactions

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to satisfy with Recent York Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation on August 10, 2022 in Recent York City.

James Devaney | GC Images | Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a proposal in federal court detailing redactions the department wants an affidavit used to acquire a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s residence in Florida if that affidavit were to turn out to be public.

The DOJ’s suggestions had been requested by a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, who’s considering requests from media outlets and others to unseal the affidavit, which led to the Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

The DOJ’s proposal, which itself will remain under seal for now by court order, was expected to suggest extensive blacking out of portions of the affidavit due to department’s concern that full public disclosure of the document could put FBI agents or witnesses in danger, or undermine an ongoing criminal investigation.

The DOJ is probing the removal of lots of of pages of documents from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021. Presidential documents by law are required to be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Court documents have revealed the DOJ is investigating possible violations of laws related to espionage and obstruction of justice.

Affidavits filed in support of search warrant applications routinely include details of why the FBI and prosecutors imagine against the law has likely been committed, and what evidence they expect or hope to seek out at the placement that’s the goal of the warrant.

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Through the raid on Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents seized a couple of dozen boxes of fabric. Court records indicate that the documents seized included material that was marked top secret.

“America has filed a submission under seal per the Court’s order of Aug. 22,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in an announcement Thursday.

“The Justice Department respectfully declines further comment because the Court considers the matter,” he said.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who authorized the raid and is presiding over issues related to the warrant, has indicated he’s prone to unseal not less than portions of the affidavit.

“I cannot say at this point that partial redactions shall be so extensive that they’ll end in a meaningless disclosure, but I could ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing farther from the federal government,” Reinhart wrote in an order Monday.

Shortly after the proposal was filed, a gaggle of media firms filed a motion asking the judge to unseal portions of the DOJ’s legal temporary arguing for the redactions.

“Just like the search warrant affidavit itself, the Temporary is a judicial record to which a presumption of public access applies,” that motion by the media groups said.

“As this Court has already recognized, there’s an ‘intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence,’ and the federal government bears the burden of demonstrating that ‘a sufficiently essential interest in secrecy” justifies sealing,’ ” the motion said.

The media groups include NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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