What’s next in the battle over the Mar-a-Lago FBI search affidavit?

In the coming days, US magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart — who earlier this month approved a warrant used by the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago — privately read parts of an affidavit filed by the Justice Department. Will consider amendment proposals. Warrant, if affidavit is to be issued at all.

In the document, investigators who are probing Trump’s handling of classified documents from the White House must explain to the judge why they thought the crime was probable cause and that evidence of that crime was present at the Florida resort.

The affidavit contains “substantial grand jury information,” a Justice Department attorney told Reinhart. at a hearing last weekWhere media organizations and other entities advocated for the public release of the document, which was filed under a seal.

Trump has called for the affidavit to be released, as it was not part of the documents related to the warrant his legal team was provided with the finding. But the former president has yet to formally inject himself into this court’s fight over whether the affidavit should go unheeded, and has instead filed a separate case before a different judge where he wants the affidavit to be unheard. Asking to see full.

Here’s what we know about what’s to come:

The DOJ’s next deadline is Thursday – but what it does will be under seal

The Justice Department has until Thursday afternoon to submit the amendment, which it believes will require an affidavit if the judge is to issue it. Along with this, the department will also present the legal reasoning why those amendments are necessary.

Earlier, the department has argued that once necessary amendments are made, the affidavit will be “devoid of any material substance”.

Reinhart is Said that the deposits payable on Thursday can be filed under the seal. It is possible that prosecutors could publicly file a revised version of the legal arguments they are making. But so far there is no indication that the department is planning to do so.

There is no set timeline for what happens next in the dispute, beyond the Thursday filing deadline for the DOJ.

The judge may still decide that he will not release any part of the affidavit.

The judge last week said that the department has not yet convinced him that the entire affidavit needs to be stamped. But depending on what the department tells him in this latest round of secret filings, he’s still left himself a little room to change his mind.

he has written in an opinion released on Monday that the “current record” did not justify “keeping the entire affidavit under seal”. He also wrote that “at this point” he was not buying the Justice Department’s argument that once all the necessary corrections were made, they would be “so pervasive that they would result in a meaningless disclosure.”

,[B]But I may come to that conclusion eventually after hearing further from the government,” he wrote.

For now, it is certain that the Justice Department has convinced the judge not to release the affidavit in its entirety without amendment.

But the judge is taking into account factors in favor of transparency.

As Reinhart wrote in Monday’s opinion, the Justice Department has already acknowledged that the warrant covers “matters of significant public concern.”

“Certainly, closing the affidavit will promote public understanding of historically significant events,” Reinhart said. “That factor favors disclosure.”

The historical significance of the Mar-a-Lago discovery made Reinhart skeptical of another argument being made by the DOJ: that the work that would go into making improvements would burden the department’s resources, and could set a precedent that could lead to similar will create disturbance and burden. other cases.

“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in the unprecedented search for the former president’s residence, the government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify the sealing,” the judge wrote.

Reinhart will have reasons that the Justice Department says in the affidavit should remain confidential, including how it may disclose the sources and methods the government is using in its investigation, and the way in which the affidavit The details of the case can be used to identify the witnesses.

It may take several weeks for the dispute to open the affidavit to be resolved

Once the Justice Department files its submission, there are no other pending deadlines currently on the public docket — meaning the judge may make his next move very quickly, or he may have several days to act. Or wait weeks.

During last week’s hearing, the lawyer arguing on behalf of the government – DOJ counter-intelligence chief Jay Bratt, who is playing a key role in the investigation – said that after the department presented its proposed amendments, he would Would be willing to be “on camera” in front of the judge to discuss them. That means a private proceeding that would be out of view not only for the public, but for parties opposing the DOJ in demanding the release of warrant documents.

But it’s not clear whether the judge will call for that kind of hearing and whether there will be any indication on the public docket that it is happening – adding to further uncertainty about what and when it will happen in the coming days.

Adding to the fluid nature of the time is the possibility that the Justice Department, if the judge does not eventually go through with its proposals to handle the affidavit, will be given time to appeal the decision. The judge can issue his decision but stay it for a certain amount of time so that the DOJ can file an appeal. This would trigger a new round of litigation that could drag on for weeks or even months.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.