DOJ opposes unseal of affidavit used to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago

DOJ opposes unseal of affidavit used to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago

Armed Secret Service agents stand outside the entrance of former US president Donald Trump'sTrump's Mar-a-Lago estate late on August 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida. TERRY RENNA AP WASHINGTON - The US Justice Department opposes the removal of the affidavit that prosecutors used to obtain a federal judge's approval to search former President Donald Trump'sTrump's Florida home, where they seized classified documents.

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, prosecutors wrote in their filing.

Trump's Republican allies have ramped up their demands for Attorney General Merrick Garland to unseal the document, which would reveal the evidence that prosecutors showed they had probable cause to believe crimes were committed at Trump's home - a standard they had to meet to secure the search warrant.

At the Justice Department's request, a federal court in south Florida unloaded the search warrant and several accompanying legal documents showing that FBI agents carted 11 sets of classified records from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Some of the seized records were labeled as top secret - the highest level of classification reserved for the most closely held US national security information.

Such documents are usually kept in special government facilities because disclosure could damage national security.

The Justice Department said the probe involved highly classified materials, and that it was another reason to keep the affidavit sealed. The agency said it would not oppose the release of other sealed documents tied to the raid, such as cover sheets and the motion to seal.

An aerial view of the Mar-a-Lago estate of the former US president Donald Trump is seen in Palm Beach, Florida, Aug 10, 2022. STEVE HELBER AP The warrant shows that the Justice Department is investigating violations of three laws, including a provision in the Espionage Act that prohibits the possession of national defense information and another law that makes it a crime to knowingly destroy, conceal or falsify records with the intent to obstruct an investigation.

Trump has claimed without evidence that he had a standing order to declassify all of the materials recovered at his home.

ALSO READ: FBI sought nuclear documents in search of Trump's home.

The Justice Department's policy not to comment on pending investigations resulted in the decision by Garland to unseal the warrant.

On the same day Garland announced his decision to unseal the warrant, an armed man with right-wing views tried to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was shot dead by police after a car chase.

Prosecutors on Monday cited the recent violence and increasing threats against the FBI as another reason not to release the affidavit.

The high-profile nature of the matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities could affect their willingness to cooperate with the investigation are some sensitive information about witnesses, they wrote.

READ MORE: Trump turns over FBI's Mar-a-Lago search to raise campaign funds.

A Pennsylvania man was arrested on Monday on charges of making threats on the social media service Gab against FBI agents. Adam Bies, 46, was taken into custody on Friday in connection with the social media posts, the DOJ said.