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Justice Department asks not to release affidavit behind Mar-a-Lago search | donald trump

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The US Department of Justice has asked a judge to withhold the affidavit that gave the FBI a likely reason to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, deepening mistrust among top aides seeking to gain insight into the intensifying criminal investigation surrounding the former president.

The affidavit should not be unsealed because it could reveal the scope of the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized withholding of government secrets, the Justice Department argued, days after Mar-a’s search warrant -Lago showed that he was referring to potential violations of three criminal laws.

A week ago, FBI agents seized a dozen boxes of documents, including documents marked Top Secret executing a search warrant referring to the Espionage Act prohibiting the unauthorized retention of information on the national security that could harm the United States or aid an adversary.

The affidavit would serve as a road map for the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, the Justice Department said, adding that it has no objection to unsealing the both a cover sheet and a sealing order that would not interfere with the criminal investigation.

In arguing against unsealing the affidavit, the Justice Department also said the disclosure could harm its ability to obtain the cooperation of witnesses not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, but also others who would seem to relate to the former president.

Disclosure of the government affidavit at this stage would also likely hamper future cooperation of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations, they added. the prosecutors.

The existence of potential witnesses who could still cooperate with a number of investigations against Trump, apparently people with intimate knowledge of the former president’s activities, once again rattled his close advisers on Monday, further deepening the mistrust. within his inner political circle.

The lack of insight into what the Justice Department intends to do with the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized withholding of government documents, including two passports, has deeply frustrated Trump’s legal team and his aides. in a week of perilous times for the former president.

At least one attorney on Trump’s legal team led by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Corcoran, who also acted as a lawyer for former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, called a reporter covering the story. for an overview of how the Department of Justice might proceed next. .

It added to the already tense atmosphere among the small group of advisers who have day-to-day roles around Trump that erupted shortly after the FBI’s departure from Mar-a-Lago and sparked suspicions that a person close to the former president had become an informant. for the FBI.

This speculation came in part amid widening knowledge of how the FBI could have established probable cause that a crime was being committed at Mar-a-Lago using new or recent information to prevent probable cause. become obsolete thanks to a confidential informant.

Suspicion initially centered on Nicholas Luna, Trump’s longtime man who stepped down around March, and Molly Michael, the former Oval Office operations chief, according to multiple sources close to Trump. the Trump White House, who remains on the payroll but is due to leave soon.

Luna was subpoenaed by the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but has not spoken to the FBI about the matter, one of the sources said. And while Michael is also expected to leave Trump’s orbit, the source said, his departure as Lunas is not acrimonious.

Mid-week, attention shifted to Mar-a-Lago employees and other staff at the members-only resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the sources said, apparently in part because the FBI knew exactly which rooms and where in the rooms. they needed to search.

But around the weekend, and following the revelation that the FBI had removed a leather box from the property and already knew the location of Trump’s safe, scrutiny again turned to anyone else. who had not yet been suspected, including members of the Trump family, the sources said.

A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment. Calls to Trump’s lawyers went unanswered or straight to voicemail. The Justice Department declined to comment on Monday’s investigation or request.

Nonetheless, growing mistrust and rampant speculation about an informant began to reach dizzying levels, even by the standards of the Trump presidency, which in many ways was characterized by competing interests and political backstabbing, officials said. sources.

It remains unclear whether the FBI relied on confidential informants, and the Guardian first reported that the search took place in part because the Justice Department was concerned that classified documents remained. at Mar-a-Lago following interactions with Trump’s attorneys.

At least one Trump lawyer signed a document apparently falsely attesting to the Justice Department that there were no classified documents left at Mar-a-Lago after federal authorities removed 10 boxes of government documents in June, the sources said, confirming a New York Times report.

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/15/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-search-justice-department

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