Judge Orders Release of Affidavit with Redactions but Orders DOJ to Focus on Certain Issues

Judge Bruce Reinhart just issued an order that is both entirely “ordinary,” though one of the types that are not often necessary. In reading the entire 13-page order granting the media’s motion to unseal the warrant with reasonable redactions of issues that remain dangerous to several issues, it is very thoughtful, and the conclusion ordering the government to brief specific security concerns in its redaction by Thursday at noon is entirely reasonable.

As things stand, unless DOJ can change Reinhart’s mind, the affidavit will be unsealed in part.

Reinhart also gave the DOJ some topics to cover in its proposed redactions, one of which is the security of Mar-a-Lago as a physical residence and possible problematic portions that could hinder the Secret Service’s ability to protect Trump. Mar-a-Lago is not a “public club,” but the “private members” do have access to the premises, and it appears that Reinhart wants to keep certain areas of Mar-a-Lago secret to help out the Secret Service. He specifically asked for DOJ’s redactions to address that concern. The other concerns are what one would expect, protecting the witness identities, the actual information in the files, and the methods in the ongoing investigation.

The result is likely to be a redacted affidavit that is both helpful and harmful to both Trump and DOJ. The only “partial winner” is the media.

The affidavit will be absolutely stuffed, overflowing, meticulously set out, and devastatingly redundant, with respect to the sheer number of occasions, the ongoing effort, the simplicity, the harmlessness, the numerous chances Trump had just to give the files back, thus avoiding the search warrant, and possible criminal case altogether. It will likely be overwhelming because it certainly persuaded the court that the only way the government could get its hands on this critical evidence was to walk in and carry it out physically. It will blow up the GOP’s argument about “Why didn’t they just work with him?” That argument will no longer be available, and Trump will look like an obstinate criminal hell-bent on keeping Top Secret-SCI nuclear files all to himself to help himself personally down the road.

But all those blacked-out pages that follow, how the government came to find out about the files, how it knew Trump had them, where they were, and – perhaps, why he kept them in the first place, will be blacked out and look conspiratorial. The MAGAs that are saying, “This is all political!” can point to page after page of black lines and say the government is “hiding” its real motivation. A normal person can accept the rationale for all that black without any problem. MAGAs are not normal people.

So that is that. Portions of the affidavit are coming out. The government is going to file its proposed redactions on Thursday. Reinhart will likely take the weekend to compare the redactions to the full affidavit and either accept it as the government submits or add/subtract certain redactions based on his judgment.

In other words, the process is operating as it should. We should be thankful. Everyone has to be very careful to lay this case out perfectly.