By Jack Phillips
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe called for the release of the underlying affidavit that rationalizes the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s home last week.
Speaking to Fox News, Ratcliffe, who served in the Trump administration, rejected an argument made on Monday by the Department of Justice to keep the affidavit sealed without any redactions. In a court filing, the Justice Department’s lawyers said that unsealing the affidavit, which was used to convince the judge to authorize a search warrant, would imperil its investigation.
“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 Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Monday evening.
Ratcliffe, a former GOP Texas congressman, noted that there could be national security information in the affidavit that the federal government does not want to be released to the public. However, he raised concerns about whether the FBI went too far in its search of Mar-a-Lago, saying: “Some would call it a fishing expedition. I would call it a hunting license.”
“It literally allowed the FBI lawfully, because it was signed off, to gather every government document and presidential record from President Trump’s first day as president through his last day as president,” he said, making note of the broad latitude that was given to the FBI agents during their raid.
Ratcliffe, however, disagreed with calls to release the affidavit in full because “it’s far too sensitive.” But, he noted that FBI and Justice Department officials appear to be “leaking information to the Washington Post that it’s about nuclear weapon technology. So unfortunately, we’re seeing the same thing that what had happened” with the 2016 Crossfire Hurricane narrative.
On his Truth Social website Monday, Trump said that the affidavit should be released as he also divulged that FBI agents seized several of his passports. Anonymous sources within the FBI and Justice Department said that the passports have been returned, although neither Trump nor his team has publicly confirmed whether he got them back.
In its Monday court filing, the Department of Justice wrote that releasing the affidavit even with redactions would damage “the integrity of the investigation” and alleged that “the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.”
The U.S. magistrate judge overseeing the FBI case, Bruce Reinhart, set up a 1 p.m. hearing on Thursday on whether the documents will be unsealed. On Aug. 12, he authorized the unsealing of the warrant and property receipt in the case after several groups made filings requesting they be released to the public.