The Justice Department said in a court filing on Monday that it opposes the release of an affidavit that was used to justify its search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago property a week ago.
Media outlets, including Dow Jones Co. and ABC News, have sought the unsealing of additional records beyond the search warrant and a property receipt. The latter records, unsealed on Friday, showed that FBI agents retrieved 10 sets of classified material from the property, including those marked as top secret. The search warrant also showed that the search was part of an investigation into potential violations of several federal statutes, including statutes prohibiting concealment, removal or mutilation; gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; and destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
In its filing, Justice Department attorneys wrote that the “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 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.”
In its filing, the DOJ also cited threats received by law enforcement personnel, including a man who was killed last week after an incident in which he tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office. There has been a spike in politically violent rhetoric online, while Trump and his allies have attacked the Justice Department and the FBI, accusing it of being politicized. Christopher Wray, the FBI director and a Trump appointee, issued a statement last week denouncing the threats.
On Monday, Trump gave an interview to Fox News Digital in which he railed against the search but also said, “Whatever we can do to help — because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.” In the interview, Trump again suggested that evidence could have been planted, without offering actual proof that it was. And later, on his social media platform Truth Social, he claimed that the FBI “stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else.”
Trump has given varying defenses for holding the classified material, claiming that he declassified it, even though he has not come forward with a record of doing so, and also accusing his predecessor, Barack Obama, of holding classified information in Chicago. But the National Archives quickly issued a statement saying that they assumed custody of Obama’s presidential records when he left office in 2017.
The search warrant is just one legal investigation facing Trump or his allies. Rudy Giuliani’s attorney told the AP and other outlets that was informed by a Fulton County special prosector that Giuliani is the target of an investigation by prosecutors in Georgia as they probe Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. Giuliani has been instructed to appear before a grand jury on Wednesday. Giuliani appeared before state lawmakers in December, 2020, claiming to have video evidence of an election worker carrying suitcases of ballots. But Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, quickly offered a response debunking the claim.
Giuliani, who represented Trump as his attorney, told Newsmax on Monday that “the statements that were made were either attorney-client privilege, because they were between me and him, or they were made on his behalf in order to defend him. When you turning around lawyers into defendants when they are defending their clients, we’re starting to live in a fascist state.”
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