DOJ releases redacted Mar-a-Lago search affidavit. Zaporizhzhia: UN nuclear watchdog plans visit amid shelling at plant.
DOJ releases redacted Mar-a-Lago search affidavit
The public and the media are getting their first look at the affidavit submitted by the FBI to obtain the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. The Justice Department has released a heavily redacted version of the warrant today, per court order.
Last week, media outlets asked federal magistrate Bruce Reinhart to unseal the secret affidavit in light of overwhelming public interest. Despite the Justice Department’s objections, Judge Reinhart agreed that it was in the public interest to unseal the affidavit, or at least parts of it.
Reinhart ordered DOJ to submit their suggested redactions, which they did yesterday. In a statement, Reinhart said that he agreed that DOJ’s redactions were “narrowly tailored” to protect sensitive information.
What’s in the affidavit?
In last week’s hearing, DOJ attorneys argued that unsealing the affidavit could compromise their ongoing criminal investigation of Trump. If Reinhart ordered the affidavit’s release, they said, they would have to redact it so extensively that it would render the remainder of the document meaningless.
The redacted document isn’t quite meaningless, but the visible portions contain little in the way of new information
What we knew already
The affidavit contains a timeline of the events leading up to the August 8, much of which was already in the public record. The known circumstances at least partially explain why DOJ felt it necessary to obtain the search warrant.
Shortly after Trump left office in 2021, the National Archives asked Trump to return classified material he’d improperly carried off from the White House. Trump eventually turned over 15 boxes back in January 2022. Of those, 14 contained highly classified material.
Realizing more documents were unaccounted for, the National Archives asked the DOJ to investigate in February. By May, Trump turned over some more documents following a subpoena. DOJ then received a tip indicating there were still more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. In June, DOJ representatives, including counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt, visited Mar-a-Lago, at that time, one of Trump’s attorneys assured them they’d handed everything over.
Other documents retained by Trump, his team insisted, were subject to executive privilege or had previously been declassified by Trump. There’s no evidence that Trump ever initiated the necessary formal procedures to declassify the documents in question.
After learning there were in fact more documents at the Mar-a-Lago estate, DOJ nevertheless held off in hopes of persuading Trump to be more forthcoming. This approach proved fruitless, forcing DOJ’s hand. Lo and behold, agents carried out 20+ more boxes of classified materials during the raid.
What we still don’t know
The visible portions of the affidavit didn’t shed much light on other aspects that many are curious about.
For example, we don’t know yet why Trump took the documents in the first place, why he didn’t hand them over previously, or what he planned to do with them. Even so, there is ample speculation out there:
We also don’t know what prompted the FBI to launch the raid when it did after negotiating with Trump for months. One explanation is that they launched the raid now, just over 90 days before the midterms, in hopes of not making unnecessary political waves closer to the election. But whatever they hoped to find in the home must have been important enough that they didn’t want to leave it until afterwards.
It’s also come to light that investigators are reviewing surveillance tapes from Mar-a-Lago, which they confiscated during the raid. In particular, they’re interested in identifying people coming and going in areas where the classified materials were kept.
No answers to these questions appeared today, though it’s possible that some of this might have been touched on in the extensive redacted portions. Considering the sensitive nature of the documents in question, we may not ever get a full answer for this, unless there’s an indictment.
Zaporizhzhia: UN nuclear watchdog plans visit amid shelling at plant
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says planning is underway for an inspection of the nuclear facility at Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. Recent intense fighting in the surrounding area as well as shelling on the grounds of the plant itself have raised international alarms. The plant has been occupied by Russian troops for months but continues to be operated by its Ukrainian handlers.
Yesterday, fires that brought down powerlines forced workers to disconnect the plant’s reactors from the power grid. The cause of the fires remains unclear. Each side has accused the other of shelling and attempting to sabotage the plant. Authorities have begun distributing iodine tablets to people in the local area, fearing that a leak could occur. Iodine tablets help block radiation from being absorbed by the thyroid.
Though both the Ukrainians and Russians have agreed in principle to the visit from the IAEA, logistical hurdles remain. There was more shelling at the plant overnight. Ukraine has accused Russia of creating an unsafe situation that will prevent inspectors from visiting.
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