The federal magistrate who signed off on the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago has now set a hearing on whether the affidavit used to establish probable cause will be released. Judge Bruce Reinhardt, who has his own checkered history, will hear arguments on Thursday where the government will continue to argue secrecy must be maintained.
Donald Trump called for the release of the affidavit on Monday, insisting it would provide much-needed transparency about what had transpired. At the same time, DOJ officials provided a laundry list of reasons why the document must be kept under wraps.
South Florida US Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said in a court filing that publishing the document would reveal cooperating witnesses and violate required grand jury secrecy.
“If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” the prosecutors wrote.
The authorities also said, “The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
The DOJ’s completely earned lack of credibility makes these excuses ring hollow. Is the argument that names can’t be redacted? It also doesn’t make much sense that showing the probable cause of the raid would “serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation.” If the investigation is legitimate, then who cares if the public is made aware of what charges are being pursued? Either the evidence exists or it doesn’t. Right now, it feels a whole lot like it doesn’t and that the DOJ is trying to hide how weak its case is.
Then there’s the nod to classified material being the issue, which will never cease to be ridiculous given that the DOJ did not care one iota about the classified material Hillary Clinton illegally trafficked in. And unlike Clinton, Trump had the power to declassify the documents he took. If says he declassified him on the way out the door, there can be no legal argument that he possessed classified information. The president is “the process” when it comes to classification, and no prior notice to any part of the bureaucracy is needed.
The DOJ, being the partisan dumpster fire that it is, is doing its best to change the rules, though. How successful they will be is highly dependent on whatever judge they end up in front of going forward. Unfortunately for Trump, if he’s charged, it’ll be in Washington, DC, and that means leftwing judges and juries eager to get the orange man. Perhaps that’s why the DOJ wants the affidavit kept secret. They know they don’t have anything and are relying on breaking precedent, but they also know they need to have anything to get a conviction in that corrupt town.
Regardless, in the end, I’d guess the affidavit remains sealed. Judge Reinhardt has no reason to help Trump out by forcing its release, and the government will do what it always does, which is claim the world will spontaneously combust if their “sources and methods” are exposed. It’s the same act every single time one of these high-profile cases comes up, and the judiciary is more than apt to keep the status quo rolling. In other words, the game is rigged.