Justice Department feared Trump would destroy evidence if search warrant weren't secret

Justice Department officials urged a federal judge to keep under wraps the search warrant used in the FBI raid of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, fearing he would destroy evidence, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

In a motion filed three days before more than 30 armed agents stormed Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, residence, the Justice Department said a public search warrant “poses a risk to [the] safety” of the materials sought in the investigation.

“The United States believes there is good cause [to keep the warrant sealed] because the integrity of the investigation might be compromised and evidence might be destroyed,” wrote Juan Antonio Gonzalez, the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida.

The petition to keep the search warrant sealed was one of three documents ordered to be made public by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Also unsealed were the search warrant’s cover sheet and application for the search warrant. The cover sheet revealed little, stating only that the Trump investigation did not originate from other Justice Department probes prior to 2019.

The search warrant application, signed by an FBI agent whose name is redacted, states that the agent believes the bureau will uncover evidence of a crime and the “contraband fruits of a crime,” or other illegally possessed materials.

SEE ALSO: Trump: DOJ should not redact affidavit for Mar-a-Lago search

It also says the FBI expects to find evidence relating to the willful retention of national defense information, concealment or removal of government records, and obstruction of a federal investigation.

Judge Reinhart also ordered the Justice Department to unseal the affidavit used to justify the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago but gave the government one week to submit potential redactions.

He said he would review the redactions and if he approves them, will order the document’s release. If not, Judge Reinhart will have a closed-door hearing with the government on the matter.


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