US judge orders partial release of papers FBI used to justify Trump search

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A US judge has ordered investigators to make public a redacted version of the court papers submitted to authorise a search by the FBI of Donald Trump’s estate.

The agents are investigating the potential mishandling of government documents by the former president.

The order means the public could soon learn at least some additional details about what led FBI officials to search Mar-a-Lago on 8 August, a move that outraged Trump and elements of the US Republican party.

Such affidavits usually remain sealed during the course of pending investigations, making the judge’s decision to reveal portions of the papers all the more controversial.

The directive from US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart came hours after federal law enforcement officials submitted under seal the portions of the affidavit that they want to keep secret as their investigation moves forward.

The judge set a deadline of noon Friday for a redacted, or blacked-out, version of the document.

The redactions proposed by the Justice Department are likely to be extensive given the sensitivity of the investigation, lessening the likelihood that the document will offer a comprehensive look at the basis for the unprecedented search or significant insights about the direction of the probe.

But even a redacted affidavit can contain at least some fresh revelations about the investigation.

Multiple news media organisations, including The Associated Press, argued in court for the disclosure of the affidavit, citing the extraordinary public interest in the federal search of a former president’s home.