WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – A group of news organizations has requested access to warrants from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Associated Press, Cable News Network, The New York Times Co., Politico and the Washington Post filed the motion for public access to certain sealed court records Feb. 25 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting the court unseal the records relating to former Donald Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone Jr. in light of the public interest in the case.
“The media coalition respectfully submits that neither the government nor any other party will be able to justify blanket sealing of the warrant materials at issue here,” the court filing stated.
“The warrant materials should be released because they are records to which the public has qualified access rights under both the First Amendment and the common law,” the court filing stated.
“There are significant interests that arguably may be at stake, such as protecting the integrity of the investigation, the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, the identities of confidential informants and the privacy of potentially innocent people. Those interests, however, are insufficient to overcome the overwhelming public interest in these materials.”
The motion indicates the media coalition is most interested in seizure or search warrants related to the prosecution of Stone.
“Because these warrant actions are sealed, the media coalition is unaware both of the precise number of warrants involved and the case numbers associated with those warrants,” they stated in their court filing.
“The SCO has said in a court filing that the case against Stone arises at least in part from ‘common search warrants.'
“It is possible, if not likely, that the government can articulate one or more compelling interests at stake here. But the continued categorical sealing of all the warrant materials cannot properly be said to be narrowly tailored to serve any such interest, which can instead be served by targeted redactions."
They also noted that it could be assumed the investigation involving Stone was over because he has been indicted.
“The media coalition does not seek in any way to jeopardize or impede the Russia investigation or any related probes,” the motion states.
“Releasing the warrant materials already provided to Stone, for example, would be unlikely to jeopardize an ongoing investigation because they have been provided to a key target of that investigation who is now under indictment."
The court filing also noted that the coalition was not against blacking out information that would put an investigation at risk.