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The federal magistrate judge who granted the FBI a warrant to conduct an unprecedented search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home has made another crucial decision.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, noted for making prior anti-Trump social media posts, set a Thursday court date to hear arguments regarding whether to release the search warrant affidavit that listed the specific reasons why the Justice Department sought to conduct the raid.
Reinhart “announced Tuesday he’d set an in-person hearing in West Palm Beach — at which the Justice Department is expected to argue against disclosure of the document,” the New York Post reported.
Several news organizations as well as conservative government watchdog organization Judicial Watch are seeking the release of the warrant affidavit, as well as Trump’s legal team.
In a late Monday statement, Trump said that “in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN.”
Trump added: “Also, the Judge on this case should recuse!” — likely a reference to Reinhart’s past financial donations to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama in 2008 and onetime Trump rival Jeb Bush in 2015.
The DOJ, meanwhile, announced opposition to publicizing the affidavit but agreed to the release of documents that were less revealing.
The Post adds:
South Florida US Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said in a court filing that publishing the document would reveal cooperating witnesses and violate required grand jury secrecy.
“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,” they wrote in a court filing.
“The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation,” they added.
Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he personally approved the raid, with The Wall Street Journal reporting Tuesday that the AG anguished over the decision for “weeks” — a claim that appears to be at odds with previous reporting suggesting that the DOJ and FBI had to move quickly because of top-secret documents including, potentially, nuclear secrets, may have been in the open at Trump’s estate.
Following the raid, the fallout from Republicans was swift.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, for instance, is calling for a repeal of The Espionage Act of 1917, a World War I-era law he says has been used variously over the past century to politically persecute opponents.
Paul’s move to ditch the Espionage Act comes amid questions over whether documents in Trump’s possession were actually classified; he has said he declassified everything shortly before leaving office, which is a long-standing presidential prerogative.
“The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment,” Paul tweeted without mentioning the former president specifically.
The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.
Repeal the Espionage Act – The Future of Freedom Foundation https://t.co/3KCgujpS9z
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 13, 2022
Paul included a link to a piece published at the Future of Freedom Foundation that calls for repealing the law from 2019.
In it, Jacob G. Hornberger, the foundation’s founder and president, makes the case that the statute is “tyrannical” and has been used in the past to punish government whistleblowers:
World War I is the gift that just keeps on giving. Although the U.S. government’s intervention into this senseless, immoral, and destructive war occurred 100 years ago, the adverse effects of the war continue to besiege our nation. Among the most notable examples is the Espionage Act, a tyrannical law that was enacted two months after the U.S. entered the war and which, unfortunately, remained on the books after the war came to an end. In fact, it is that World War I relic that U.S. officials are now relying on to secure the criminal indictment of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks head who released a mountain of evidence disclosing the inner workings and grave wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment, especially with respect to the manner in which it has waged it undeclared forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.