Court Battles

Media outlets file motion to unseal entirety of DOJ’s records to search Mar-a-Lago

A group of four major media companies filed a motion on Thursday to unseal all court documents related to the search warrant that the FBI executed at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property on Monday. 

The Washington Post, CNN, NBC News and E.W. Scripps Company filed the motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to ask for documents pertaining to the search warrant, including the search warrants themselves, the warrant application, “all probable cause affidavits filed in support of the search warrant” and any motion to seal the “warrant-related records”, among other things.

On Thursday, the Justice Department asked the district court to unseal a warrant authorizing the search warrant of Trump’s property in Palm Beach, Fla, that was executed on Monday.

In the court filing, the department cited “the public’s clear and powerful interest” in understanding the search. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland later stated that he personally approved the application and execution of the search warrant.

The media organizations argued that the public interest in having access to the records outweighs any interest in them remaining private. 

The motion states that the public has a right to access search warrants and documents that support them.

“As the Eleventh Circuit has recognized,'[t]he press has standing to intervene in actions to which it is otherwise not a party in order to petition for access to court proceedings and records,” the media organizations wrote.

“Both the First Amendment and the common law protect the media and the general public’s right of access to judicial proceedings and records,” the organizations continued.

They further cited the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Florida, stating that the public’s access to judicial proceedings is “crucial to our tradition and history” and “continued public confidence” in the justice system. 

The media organizations also argue that Trump’s sharp criticism of the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago further increases the public’s interest in the matter. He has previously categorized the search as politically motivated.

Trump’s legal team was provided a copy of the list of documents that were seized from his residence, according to the Justice Department’s filing. However, his team has not publicly released that list. His lawyer Christina Bobb has said during media appearances this week that the search concerned potentially classified information.

The New York Times and the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch have also filed motions to unseal documents related to the search.

The media organizations in Thursday’s filing argue that “narrow” redactions in the documents would satisfy any law enforcement interest in not revealing all information.

They also requested a public hearing on the motion.

Tags CNN Donald Trump E.W. Scripps Company FBI Mar-a-Lago Merrick Garland NBC News Presidential Records Act Search warrant Trump unseal Washington Post

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