Following Judicial Watch’s Tuesday court filing seeking release of all Trump raid warrant materials, the Biden Justice Department filed a motion offering to unseal certain warrant materials absent objection from former President Trump. On August 9, Judicial Watch filed its motion asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to unseal as soon as possible the search warrant materials used by the FBI to raid President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida (U.S. v. Sealed Search Warrant (Case No. 9:22-mj-08332)).
The new Justice Department filing states:
The government hereby requests that the Court unseal the Notice of Filing and its attachment
(Docket Entry 17), absent objection by former President Trump. The attachment to that
Notice consists of:
- The search warrant signed and approved by the Court on August 5, 2022, including
Attachments A and B; and
- The redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search, filed with the Court on August 11, 2022
The press and the public enjoy a qualified right of access to criminal and judicial proceedings and the judicial records filed therein.
“Judicial Watch legal pressure forced this important first step by the Biden Justice Department to disclose Attorney General Garland’s role in the abusive Trump raid and other urgent information to the American people,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It remains to be seen exactly what documents are ultimately released about this unprecedented, reckless and dangerous raid on the home of former President Trump.”
Earlier, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to file a response to Judicial Watch’s Motion to Unseal the warrant and supporting materials behind the FBI raid of President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago by 5p.m. on August 15, 2022.
The order notes that, “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.”
Due to multiple organizations filing to unseal the warrant, Judge Reinhart further ordered that, “To avoid the need for individualized orders on any future motion(s) to unseal, it is ORDERED that the Government shall file an omnibus response to all motions to unseal on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on August 15, 2022.”
In its motion Judicial Watch states:
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 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.