Speed Reads

'Rorschach test'

Judge orders FBI to release redacted affidavit behind search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday gave the Justice Department until noon Friday to unseal a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The affidavit is believed to lay out a detailed rationale for the FBI's search of Trump's office and residence in search of government documents, including top secret material, Trump improperly took home from the White House.

Reinhart, however, signaled he agreed to the redactions proposed by the Justice Department. "I find that the government has met its burden of showing a compelling reason/good cause to seal portions of the affidavit because disclosure would reveal (1) the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties, (2) the investigation's strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and (3) grand jury information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure," Reinhart wrote. He also called the redactions "narrowly tailored."

CNN's Katelyn Polantz cautioned that we may not learn much from the document, given the probable level of redactions, but former White House counsel John Dean was optimistic some new information could come out, and he suggested Trump "is going to be very unhappy with what he finds and what comes out" of the document.

On the other hand, a version of the affidavit with too much obscured "might just give fuel to those on one side or the other who, like a Rorschach test, will simply see what they want to see in the blacked-out spaces," sowing more confusion in the high-profile case, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman tells The New York Times

The unsealed warrant indicates that the Justice Department is in the early stages of an investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice by Trump. The Justice Department has not charged Trump in the case, and it may not ultimately do so.