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BREAKING: DOJ releases redacted Mar-a-Lago Affidavit

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The Department of Justice on Friday released a heavily redacted version of the affidavit used to justify the raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, showing that the FBI believed there to be probable cause of “evidence of obstruction” in the building, reports National Review.

The affidavit related to the search warrant “sheds light on new details of the criminal investigation, including the probable cause that warranted the search” reports Axios.

After reviewing the documents, Axios reports:

The unsealed affidavit revealed that 14 of the 15 boxes retrieved from Trump earlier this year by the National Archives and Record Administration contained 184 documents with classification markings.

  • Of those documents, 67 were marked as “confidential,” 92 were marked as “secret,” and 25 documents were marked as “top secret.”
  • “Of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly [sic] identified,” per the affidavit.
  • The DOJ also said that “there is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI [national defense information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES.”
  • The DOJ added there is also “probable cause” to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at Mar-a-Lago
  • The DOJ affidavit said that the FBI believed that Trump’s storage room, residential suite, Pine Hall, the “45 Office” and other spaces potentially held national defense information.

Prior to releasing the affidavit, the DOJ also released a 14-page documentexplaining the reasoning for why releasing the affidavit without redactions would harm the investigation and could jeopardize the safety of witnesses and agents involved.

  • “[T]he materials the government marked for redaction … must remain sealed to protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement personnel, as well as to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation and to avoid disclosure of grand jury material in violation of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure,” the document reads.
  • It also notes that the Florida Judge “found that disclosure of the Affidavit would likely result in witnesses being ‘quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated.’”

DOJ added that the court found the affidavit contains “matters of significant public concern” and concluded that “the present record” does not “justif[y] keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”

The previously unsealed search warrant and inventory revealed the FBI removed around 20 boxes, including 11 sets of classified information from the Trump property, including some marked as “top secret.”

  • House Republicans have pressed for more information from the Justice Department and FBI in the wake of the search.
  • Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said last Thursday that it was “very important” that the public have as “much information” as it can about the search at Trump’s Florida residence.
  • “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 in his order that parts of the affidavit be redacted.

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Multiple states launch lawsuit against Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan

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Breaking Thursday, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina joined together to file a lawsuit against President Biden’s administration in order to stop the student loan-forgiveness program from taking effect.

“In addition to being economically unwise and downright unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is yet another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions,” argued the plaintiffs in their filing.

The attorneys general spearheading the legal challenge also submit that “no statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”

Biden, however, has argued that he is able to unilaterally cancel student debt to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, writes National Review, a Department of Education memo released by his administration asserts that the HEROES Act,  which passed in 2003 and allows the secretary of education to provide student-debt relief “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency,” provides the legal basis for the cancellation.

But, National Review notes that the plaintiffs point out that Biden declared in a recent 60 Minutes interview that “the pandemic is over.”

The legal brief also adds:

“The [HEROES] Act requires ED [Education Department] to tailor any waiver or modification as necessary to address the actual financial harm suffered by a borrower due to the relevant military operation or emergency… This relief comes to every borrower regardless of whether her income rose or fell during the pandemic or whether she is in a better position today as to her student loans than before the pandemic.”

Moreover, they argue that the HEROES Act was designed to allow the secretary to provide relief in individual cases with proper justification.

The first lawsuit against Biden’s executive order came Tuesday from the Pacific Legal Foundation:

“The administration has created new problems for borrowers in at least six states that tax loan cancellation as income. People like Plaintiff Frank Garrison will actually be worse off because of the cancellation. Indeed, Mr. Garrison will face immediate tax liability from the state of Indiana because of the automatic cancellation of a portion of his debt,” wrote PLF in their own brief.

The state-led lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Missouri, and asks that the court “temporarily restrain and preliminarily and permanently enjoin implementation and enforcement of the Mass Debt Cancellation,” and declare that it “violates the separation of powers established by the U.S. Constitution,” as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.

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