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Trump spy chief rejects DOJ argument on keeping Mar-a-Lago affidavit secret

Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe argued in favor of releasing the underlying affidavit for the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago last week.

The Trump-era spy chief made the case Monday night during an appearance on Fox News, not going as far as former President Donald Trump’s call for the “completely unredacted” release of the affidavit, but rejecting an argument made by the Justice Department against unsealing it even with redactions.

“It’s garbage to say that that information couldn’t be redacted so that the remainder of the affidavit that is so important to establishing probable cause is something that we can see,” Ratcliffe told host Laura Ingraham.

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Affidavits are used by federal investigators to convince a judge to approve a search warrant. The Justice Department argued against the affidavit’s release on Monday, saying such a disclosure is “highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” and said: “The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly.”

The Justice Department also insisted the “redactions necessary to mitigate harms to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest,” but it did say it did not object to the release of other documents, including the cover sheets associated with the search warrant application, the DOJ’s original motion to seal, and the court’s original sealing order.

A judge did allow the release of a court-approved search warrant and an inventory of property seized late last week. Those documents showed 11 sets of classified records were removed from Trump’s Florida residence and that the former president is being investigated for a potential Espionage Act violation and possible obstruction of justice.

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Ratcliffe acknowledged there may be sources or national security information in the affidavit that the Justice Department does not want divulged, but he raised concerns about an “overbroad” search warrant, which has been released, that covered materials from the beginning to the end of Trump’s presidency. “Some would call it a fishing expedition. I would call it a hunting license,” he said.

Ratcliffe said this reminds him of “the Russiagate playbook used by the FBI and the Department of Justice where they’re using their authorities both as a sword and a shield.”

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