Magistrate Orders DoJ to Respond to Request to Unseal Mar-a-Largo Search Warrant

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The conservative legal group Judicial Watch filed suit in a federal court demanding that the Department of Justice unseal the search warrant that formed the legal basis for the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Largo;


“Judicial Watch is investigating the potential politicization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice and whether the FBI and the Justice Department are abusing their law enforcement powers to harass a likely future political opponent of President Biden,” the group’s motion stated.

Within hours of the Judicial Watch motion being filed, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, who signed off on the search warrant, directed the DoJ to respond to Judicial Watch’s motion by Monday, August 15.

Judicial Watch:

The public has an urgent and substantial interest in understanding the predicate for the execution of the unprecedented search warrant of the private residence of a former president and likely future political opponent…. [N]o official explanation or information has been released about the search. As of the filing of this motion, the public record consists solely of speculation and inuendo. In short, the historical presumption of access to warrant materials vastly outweighs any interest the government may have in keeping the materials under seal.

Given the political context, and the highly unusual action of executing a search warrant at the residence of a former President and likely future political opponent, it is essential that the public understands as soon as possible the basis for the government’s action. Any government interest in securing the identities of witnesses and confidential sources, if any, may be addressed by appropriate redactions from the search warrant affidavit.


Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement, “The Biden administration’s raid on President Trump’s home is an outrageous, reckless and unprecedented abuse of power. And the American people have an urgent right to know how it happened and who is responsible.”

Unfortunately, we still may not get the whole story. Judge Reinhart’s order included the stipulation that DoJ could redact information still under seal.

Law and Crime:

“[T]he Government shall file a Response to the Motion to Unseal,” the judge wrote in the docket entry immediately following the motion. “The response may be filed ex parte and under seal as necessary to avoid disclosing matters already under seal. In that event, the Government shall file a redacted Response in the public record.”

A Law and Crime national security reporter believes the DoJ will stonewall the court by saying that unsealing the warrant could “harm ongoing investigations.”

“It is good that the judge ordered DOJ to publicly respond to the motion given the obvious public interest in the matter,” Moss wrote. “I highly expect DOJ however to rely on broad and conclusory claims about the harm to the ongoing investigation if the search warrant information is released, as well as the prejudicial impact it has on the target(s) of the warrant given there has not yet been an indictment.”


A former prosecutor also thinks the motion will be denied.

Should Trump release the details of the search warrant? Defendants in criminal actions usually don’t, mostly because the wording of the warrant is usually extremely prejudicial. The Feds needed to put the worst possible spin on whatever they think they have on Trump to get the warrant in the first place.

From Trump’s point of view, the less he says, the better. But this case is as much political as it is legal, perhaps more. Shouldn’t a federal judge take that into consideration and order a complete airing of the charges and specifications against Donald Trump?


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