U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart rejected the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) argument Monday to keep the Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit under wraps, saying the government has the burden of proof to show why parts of the affidavit must be sealed.
Reinhart wrote the government can keep the search warrant affidavit, which would shed light on the reasoning behind the warrant, sealed so long as “there is a compelling governmental interest and the denial of access is ‘narrowly tailored to serve that interest.'” (RELATED: REPORT: FBI Was After Documents Trump Believed Would ‘Exonerate’ Him From Russia Conspiracy)
The DOJ is arguing unsealing the affidavit “would jeopardize the integrity of its ongoing criminal investigation,” with Reinhart saying he is greatly weighing the fact that “there is a significant likelihood that unsealing the Affidavit would harm legitimate privacy interests” of those involved in the raid as well as witnesses as well the fact that Secret Service uses the premises at Mar-a-Lago and unsealing the affidavit could be a security threat.
Reinhart also noted, however, that “unsealing the Affidavit would promote public understanding of historically significant events. This factor weighs in favor of disclosure.”
JUST IN: Magistrate Judge Reinhart has filed a written order memorializing his decision to consider unsealing portions of the Mar-a-Lago affidavit.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 22, 2022
Nonetheless, Reinhart said he believes the DOJ has “met its burden of showing good cause/a compelling interest that overrides any public interest in unsealing the full contents of the Affidavit” but that he “must consider whether there is a less onerous alternative to unsealing the entire document.”
Reinhart then noted the DOJ’s argument that redacting portions of the affidavit would cause an “undue burden on its resources” has not been justified.
“Given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”
“I therefore reject the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”
Reinhart granted the DOJ’s request to give the agency the opportunity to propose redactions, with the deadline being August 25.
Reinhart previously announced he was considering allowing a redacted version of the affidavit to be released as various media outlets including The New York Times and CNN pushed for the document to be released in the interest of the public.