Judge who signed FBI Mar-a-Lago warrant tells DoJ to respond to request to unseal it

Bruce Reinhart has been targeted with violent and anti-semitic threats after authorising FBI raid on Trump residence

Andrew Naughtie
Thursday 11 August 2022 14:04 BST
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The judge who signed the warrant granting the FBI permission to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence has instructed the Department of Justice to respond to a request to unseal it.

Mr Trump has the prerogative to release the warrant himself, but has yet to do so despite calls from across the political spectrum to make it public. As a result, newspapers and campaign groups are suing to obtain it for public scrutiny.

Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered on Wednesday that “on or before 5:00pm Eastern time on August 15, 2022, the Government shall file a Response to the Motion to Unseal. 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.”

The decision does not guarantee that the warrant will be unsealed in its entirety, but does at least raise the possibility that it may be made public within a week despite Mr Trump’s reticence to share it.

Among the groups seeking to get the warrant unsealed is Judicial Watch, a right-wing organisation with a long history of pursuing unflattering information about Democrats via legal action. Also seeking to get the warrant unsealed are the New York Times and the Albany Times-Union.

The various efforts to make the warrant public are divided along political lines. Judicial Watch’s motion is premised on the aim of “educating the public” about “the potential politicization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US 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 Times’s motion, by contrast, argues for release on the basis of “utmost public interest, involving the actions of current and former government officials”, writing that the paper “has devoted significant newsgathering resources to providing the public with information about this unprecedented search in a political climate in which the uncertainty about the purpose and basis of the search is fueling recriminations and unbridled partisanship”.

The acrimony referenced by the Times has seen Mr Trump and his allies spread misinformation and unsubstantiated claims about the raid while the Justice Department and FBI have held back from sharing any significant details about why the property was searched without warning on Monday.

The ensuing anger among Mr Trump’s supporters has been amplified by the right-wing media, and has seen a surge in violent threats directed at Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, as well as Mr Reinhart.

The hate speech and threats directed at him have been so intense that his profile page has been removed from the Palm Beach Federal Court’s website.

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