The Albany Times Union newspaper and Judicial Watch have separately asked the federal magistrate to publicly release the search warrant tied to the FBI raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
The FBI executed the search warrant of Trump’s Palm Beach property on Monday in what the former president characterized as an “unannounced raid” on his home.
In a letter sent to Judge Bruce Reinhardt, Albany Times-Union managing editor Brendan Lyons requested that the search warrant – filed under seal at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida – be unsealed.
“[I]t is well settled in this Circuit and others that the public has a First Amendment and a common law right to inspect and copy judicial records,” Lyons said. “It has also been settled in federal courts across the country that a district court’s discretion to seal the record of judicial proceedings ‘is to be exercised charily,’ and that it is inappropriate to indefinitely seal a warrant affidavit.”
Lyons argued that unsealing the search warrant would not impede any ongoing investigation given that the search warrant has been executed and the target of that search – former President Trump – “has full knowledge of what has occurred.”
Judge Reinhardt has given the Department of Justice until August 15 to respond to the request to unseal the search warrant.
Judicial Watch has filed a separate motion for the judge to unseal the search warrant in the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
In its motion, the organization said it “is investigating the potential politicization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice and whether the FBI and the Justice Department are abusing their law enforcement powers to harass a likely future political opponent of President Biden.”
“The public has an urgent and substantial interest in understanding the predicate for the execution of the unprecedented search warrant of the private residence of a former president and likely future political opponent,” the organization said. “[N]o official explanation or information has been released about the search.”
It added: “As of the filing of this motion, the public record consists solely of speculation and inuendo. In short, the historical presumption of access to warrant materials vastly outweighs any interest the government may have in keeping the materials under seal.”
FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of a federal investigation into whether the former president took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said.
The raid has prompted a flurry of unanswered questions about why the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland would take such a drastic step.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.