DoJ opposes release of affidavit, willing to release ‘other’ docs, concerns of ‘protecting witnesses’ a joke

The Justice Department’s insistence that it be excused from public scrutiny regarding its investigation of former President Donald Trump led to pushback in court against releasing the affidavit that secured the search warrant of Mar-a-Lago, and one former federal prosecutor suggested that’s only “one source of the anger” from the American public.

On Monday, South Florida Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez and DOJ counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt cosigned a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida countering the argument that various outlets had made in requests that the affidavit be unsealed. That affidavit contains the justification for the Aug. 8 raid of Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida that Attorney General Merrick Garland had approved.

“If disclosed,” they contended, “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.”

In furthering their argument against organizations like Judicial Watch, the Associated Press and CBS Broadcasting, Inc., the filing went on to argue, “As the Court is aware from its review of the affidavit, it contains, among other critically important and detailed investigative facts: highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government; specific investigative techniques; and information required by law to be kept under seal.”

“In addition, information about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation,” they continued. “Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations.”

They also attempted to make clear that, unlike unsealing the search warrant and the list of items taken from Mar-a-Lago, “The affidavit supporting the search warrant presents a very different set of consideration. There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed.”

Fox News host, former federal prosecutor and former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) joined “Special Report” Monday to refute that argument from the Justice Department and to affirm that the lack of transparency was one of the root causes of anger and frustration spreading throughout the public.

“I need more facts,” he told host Bret Baier. “You know, that’s the curse of being a lawyer, Bret, is you want more facts. So with the predicate, the probable cause for the search last week, I’d like to see the affidavit. That’s one source of the anger.”

(Video: Fox News)

“The other source of the anger though, quite frankly, Bret, is six years of belief on behalf of many Republicans that the blindfold has slipped and that Lady Justice is actually paying attention to who’s in front of her. And that’s not going to be fixed with releasing the affidavit,” the former lawmaker suggested.

Baier then specifically raised the Justice Department’s filing and concerns about protecting witnesses before asking Gowdy, “Do you buy any of that?”

“Oh, absolutely,” he replied, not disputing the need to maintain certain levels of confidentiality during an ongoing investigation before he added, “Which is why they all have these big old black pens where you can redact informant information, grand jury information and ongoing other investigative information. I mean, look, we get redacted stuff all the time, Bret. So tell us what you can tell us.”

The filing had included a footnote that preempted such arguments which asserted, “the redactions necessary to mitigate harms to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.”

“The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation,” the Justice Department argued to the court. As though it would be a meaningful consolation to those seeking justification for the unprecedented raid on a former president still actively involved in politics, the government stated they would be willing to release other documents such as the cover sheets for the warrant and sealing order by US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

It remains up to the federal court whether or not it will release even a redacted version of the affidavit for public consumption.

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