GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) highlighted the appalling behavior of the Department of Justice, not only for authorizing an FBI raid of former President Donald Trump, but by selectively leaking information about the investigation, while seeking to keep the search warrant affidavit from the public.
“Federal judge , Judge Bruce Reinhart saying he will release portions of the affidavit that led to FBI search warrant and raid on former President Trump’s home in Florida,” Dagen McDowell said on ‘Mornings with Maria.’ “Reinhart ruling that, quote, ‘the government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed.’ The Department of Justice has until noon on Thursday of next week to submit proposed redactions, though the judge does have the final say. J
“Congressman Scalise, how long is it going to be, do you think, before at least portions see the light of day?” McDowell asked. “Because the judge also did say that he will — that if he — justice isn’t happy with the redactions that he makes, they can keep it under seal, he will keep it under seal until the government has the opportunity to appeal. So what are we talking about here?”
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“Hopefully that is soon, that we see it,” Scalise said. “And keep in mind, we’ve been seeing leaks over and over, just very selective leaks coming out of justice over parts of this document, so, you know, if they can leak some of it, why not let the public see all of it? They had no problem giving ‘The New York Times’ or ‘The Washington Post’ very selective pieces of it, let’s see the whole thing. I mean, this was an unprecedented action that was taken, if it was justified as claiming, they should want it out there in the public domain, yet they’re still fighting to keep it private. That should tell you something right there.”
“Right, less than 90 days before midterm elections, leaking, leaking, speculating, speculating, conjecture, conjecture, lying, even fabricating a replay of what happened during Russia-gate which started even before the election in the summer of 2016,” McDowell pithily noted.
“Yeah, the same pattern,” Scalise agreed. “We saw that pattern over and over, really since Donald Trump ran for president, started running for president, you’ve seen this attack by some people that just to want to undermine him, they still do, they’re still threatened by him. You know, most Americans are looking it the same. They want justice blind. If his last name was Smith or Clinton, he surely wouldn’t have faced that same outcome at Mar-a-Lago.”
Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday denied the Department of Justice’s request that the search warrant affidavit used to authorize the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago remain “fully sealed.” Judge Reinhart said that “I am not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed” and asks the government for proposed redactions to the Mar-a-Lago affidavit by next week, adding “this will be a careful process.”
The judge earlier stated that the sealing order, motion to seal and criminal cover sheet will also be unsealed, but with heavy redactions. As earlier reported, the court hearing flies in the face of the Department of Justice’s wishes that the judge magistrate would simply keep the entire search warrant affidavit secret. However, if past is prologue, the DOJ will attempt to have as much of the document as possible redacted before releasing it to the public.
However, there is some hope for transparency due to the Department of Justice leaking information on the FBI raid to the press, as pointed out by legal scholar Jonathan Turley.
“The latest leak suggests that the FBI acted on a subpoenaed security tape from outside the storage room at Mar-a-Lago,” Turley states. “While the DOJ demands a total seal on the affidavit to protect the integrity of the investigation, these details continue to be selectively leaked. In the meantime, Attorney General Garland has not taken even modest measures to assure the public that this is not a politically motivated investigation.”
“It is unlikely that the court will reject the DOJ demand for a continued seal,” Turley added. “However, that offers little transparency while these confidential sources continue to frame the coverage through these leaks. It is the leaking from the Justice Department that is fueling speculation. While Garland says that he is deeply concerned about people questioning the integrity of his Department, he has done little to quell such speculation or to address these concerns.”
The Department of Justice’s rationale for maintaining the search warrant affidavit’s secrecy is a familiar one to those who watched the the department’s behavior during the Russiagate scandal, the Mueller investigation, and the Ukraine impeachment hoax. The DOJ claims that providing the public with transparency about why the FBI raided a former president and political rival of the current president before the midterm elections might compromise state secrets and agency methods.
The DOJ’s endless investigations of Donald Trump have turned up empty for over six years. This is one reason the DOJ is being accused of a ‘fishing expedition’ by relying on an overly broad search warrant to seize everything from the former president’s passports to his privileged papers. It is also why so many people are interested in seeing the underlying, unredacted search warrant affidavit: It may reveal the pattern of leaking and circular reporting that Americans witnessed throughout Russiagate.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.