Today’s Office Hours question: Should the Justice Department (or the judge who signed the search warrant) make public the affidavit used to justify the search of Trump’s home in Florida?
The Department of Justice says no because release would “compromise future investigative steps” and “likely chill” cooperation with witnesses, including other high-profile investigations. The Department also wants to protect witnesses against death threats.
Last week, in response to Trump’s accusation that the FBI’s search of his home was part of a politically motivated “witch hunt,” Attorney General Merrick Garland made the rare move to unseal the warrant, to show there was probable cause of criminality to justify the search.
The unsealed warrant revealed that Trump had carried away from the White House a number of top-secret documents.
But Trump argues he had the power as president to declassify top secret documents. The public still has no idea what’s in them, why Trump might have taken them, and whether this was an act of serious criminality or simple carelessness on his part — thus further stoking paranoia and possible violence on the part of Trump’s supporters.
Last week Garland sounded as if he was going to reveal what the Department suspects were Trump’s motives in taking the documents. Now, Garland appears to be reversing himself. (The public doesn’t know the difference between a search warrant stating probable cause and an affidavit used to justify such a warrant.)
Even if release of the affidavit might compromise future steps in this particular investigation, I believe it should be released. When about a third of America agrees with Trump’s claims of a “Deep State” conspiracy against him, it’s more important to reveal why the Justice Department and FBI made the extraordinary decision to search the former president’s home than to worry about the niceties of a legal process.
That’s my take. What do you think? (I’m including a poll.)
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