Biden Administration Asks Court to Unseal Trump Search Warrant Materials

Biden Administration Asks Court to Unseal Trump Search Warrant Materials
Former President Donald Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 9, 2022. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Aug. 11 asked a federal court to make public materials on the search warrant FBI agents obtained and executed on former President Donald Trump's residence in Florida this week.

Government lawyers asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to unseal the warrant itself and some supporting materials, as well as a receipt listing items taken from the Mar-a-Lago resort.

"The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter," Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee, said in prepared remarks delivered in Washington on Thursday.
Christina Bobb, one of Trump's lawyers, told The Epoch Times that agents were seeking classified and presidential records.
The government before the raid asked the court to shield the documents. But making them public now "would not 'impair court functions,' including the government’s ability to execute the warrant, given that the warrant has already been executed," the government lawyers said in the new filing.

The request asks Reinhart to unseal the warrant and "Attachments A and B," in addition to the receipt.

Chris Farrell, director of research and investigation at Judicial Watch, told The Epoch Times that attachment A is the affidavit, or the document from a law enforcement agent outlining to the judge why a warrant would be needed.

On the other hand, Andrew Crespo, a professor of criminal law and procedure at the Harvard Law School, said on social media that he believes neither attachment is the affidavit.

Farrell's group asked the court on Aug. 9 to unseal the search warrant materials, including the affidavit, arguing that the public has a right to the records, particularly in light of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the raid.

"It's absolutely critical to get the affidavit. The affidavit is the foundation. It's the predicate for the entire search warrant process," Farrell said.

 Former President Donald Trump waves while walking to a vehicle outside of Trump Tower in New York on Aug. 10, 2022. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump waves while walking to a vehicle outside of Trump Tower in New York on Aug. 10, 2022. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

Circumstances Favor Unsealing

The DOJ also now says that at least some of the documents should be unsealed, asserting the matter at hand "plainly 'concerns public officials or public concerns,'" since agents took action at the property of a former president, and that the public's "clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing."

Before Reinhart approves the unsealing, government lawyers said, Trump should have an opportunity to respond to the motion and lodge objections, perhaps over privacy concerns.

Reinhart, a judge at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida who signed off on the warrant on Aug. 5, ordered the government to immediately give a copy of its motion to Trump and notify the court by 3 p.m. on Aug. 12 as to whether Trump opposed the motion.

Bobb, who did not respond to a request for comment on the government's motion, has said that the former president would request that the court unseal the warrant materials.

The government's motion seems to be an attempt to try to respond to the outrage from many over the raid, John Malcolm, director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Epoch Times.

"I think that this is an attempt by the Department of Justice—who may have underestimated the reaction to this through this raid—to try to get out a little bit ahead of it by saying, 'Oh, see, what we did here was perfectly on the up and up,'" Malcolm said.

"If they really wanted to do that, in a more fulsome way, they would share that affidavit," he added.

Roman Balmakov contributed to this report.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]