The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) counterintelligence chief said Thursday that the federal government’s investigation into allegedly classified materials found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is in its “early stages.”
“This investigation is open. It is in its early stages,” DOJ Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Jay Blatt told U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday while arguing against releasing the affidavit. Previously, DOJ lawyers said in court filings that its release would damage the integrity of its investigation.
“The government is very concerned about safety of the witnesses in these cases” and may put a chill on other witnesses coming forward, Blatt also argued, without elaborating. In seeking to block the release of the affidavit and other documents, he said that the FBI’s investigation has “national security overtones,” which in turn “outweighs public interest.”
Elaborating on the investigation, Blatt said that “in this case, the court has found probable cause there’s a violation of one of the obstruction statutes, and that evidence of obstruction would be found at Mar-a-Lago,” according to reporters inside the courtroom. Blatt didn’t elaborate on what the Department of Justice or FBI were investigating.
Republicans and some analysts say that the bureau’s targeting of a former president’s home is an unprecedented move, while Trump himself told news outlets earlier this week that the raid puts the United States in a “very dangerous position.”
“There is tremendous anger, like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one—years of scams and witch hunts, and now this,” Trump remarked to Fox News. “If there is anything we can do to help, I, and my people, would certainly be willing to do that,” he added.
Federal agents took more than two dozen boxes of items, including 11 sets of allegedly classified and top secret documents, from Mar-a-Lago, according to a warrant and property receipt that were unsealed last week by Reinhart. Neither document shed light on what the FBI agents recovered or what they were looking for.
Three passports belonging to Trump were taken during the raid, according to Trump and his lawyers. The FBI later confirmed to news outlets in a statement on Tuesday that the travel documents were seized and were eventually returned to the 45th president.
On Thursday, Trump issued several posts on Truth Social pointing to an order he made as president to declassify some materials in connection to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, which was initiated in mid-2016 and sought to uncover evidence of alleged Russian interference.
However, special counsel Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office later said there was no evidence Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Trump himself has repeatedly described the FBI’s actions and the ensuing corporate media coverage as a partisan witch hunt designed to hurt his presidency and candidacy.
In the hearing, Reinhart ordered Department of Justice officials to provide him with a redacted version of the affidavit and said he’ll review the proposed redactions to determine if they’re appropriate. The judge acknowledged during the hearing that there could be information in the affidavit that is too sensitive to release to the general public.
Other than Blatt and other government lawyers, Reinhart also heard arguments from attorneys representing news outlets that are calling for the release of the affidavit.
From The Epoch Times