Former President Donald Trump on Monday night demanded the immediate release of the affidavit undergirding the search warrant that authorized an unannounced FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.
On his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump urged the Department of Justice to "immediate[ly] release" the "completely [u]nredacted [a]ffidavit" pertaining to the search of his Florida residence that was conducted on August 8.
In a late-night Truth Social post, the 45th President emphatically denounced the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of his home as an "unannounced raid" and said that the FBI agents' actions were tantamount to a "break-in."
Image Source: Truth Social | @realDonaldTrump | August 15, 2022 at 22:54
"There is no way to justify the unannounced RAID of Mar-a-Lago, the home of the 45th President of the United States (who got more votes, by far, than any sitting President in the history of our Country!), by a very large number of gun[-]toting FBI Agents, and the Department of 'Justice' but, in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible BREAK-IN," Trump wrote in his Truth Social post.
"Also," Trump added, "the Judge on this case should recuse!"
The Department of Justice filed a motion in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to block the release of the affidavit that likely provided probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant that authorized a search of Mar-a-Lago.
The text of the Fourth Amendment to the United States states, in pertinent part, that "[n]o Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (Emphasis added.)
An affidavit, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a voluntary declaration of facts written down and sworn to by a declarant, usu[ally] before an officer authorized to administer oaths."
In an interview with NewsMax, Jenna Ellis, a constitutional attorney and a former lawyer for Trump said that the FBI had "political justification" for the raid, but not actual probable cause.
According to Ellis, the affidavit should have "automatically" accompanied the search warrant when it was released. She stated that if the affidavit does not exist, it would be a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Ellis was also alarmed by the warrant's broadness and lack of specificity. According to Ellis, the warrant failed to state with particularity, as required by the Fourth Amendment, what documents were to be seized. In addition, the warrant also sought documents from essentially the entire duration of Trump's presidency, which Ellis said was overly broad.
During the raid, Fox News reported that FBI agents seized Trump's passports. Around 4:30PM today, Trump took to Truth Social to inform his followers that, at the request of his attorneys, his passports were returned to him.
Image Source: Truth Social | @realDonaldTrump | August 16, 2022 at 16:31
Fox News reported on Tuesday that the Department of Justice would "comply" with a court order to "partially" unseal the affidavit, but the Department of Justice wrote in its filing that it "respectfully requests an opportunity to provide the Court with proposed redactions."
At a press conference on August 11, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice had filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to have the search warrant and the property receipt--a document that enumerates what items were seized as a result of the search--unsealed. It is worth noting that, according to Attorney General Garland, the Department of Justice's decision to move for the unsealing of the search warrant and property receipt was, at least partially, predicated on the fact that Trump had publicly commented on the search.
Though Trump has neither been charged with a crime nor indicted by a grand jury, he maintains his innocence and has stated both online and in interviews that all documents sought and seized were previously declassified.
The Department of Justice has insisted on several occasions that the affidavit's release, if ordered, would jeopardize the integrity of its investigation.