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The Department of Justice was told to release more details of the arrest warrant against Burr

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to release a much less redacted version of the 2020 search warrant executed to seize North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s cell phone as part of an investigation into the GOP lawmaker’s stock trading. start of the COVID pandemic. -19 epidemics.

The Los Angeles Times, which sought publication of the document in court, had pressed for more information after the department published a heavily redacted document. search warrant and attached affidavit in June by court order. The affidavit provided little information about the evidence the FBI had gathered and used to obtain permission from a federal judge to seize the phone.

Department of Justice Lawyers argued in court documents that much of the information should remain hidden, in part because it includes “extensive details of interviews with private outside witnesses whose role in the investigation is not publicly known.”

But Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell ordered the Justice Department on Monday to file a redacted version of the order by September 5. A spokesman for the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia declined to comment.

Howell agreed to the DOJ’s request to withhold certain information related to third-party witnesses and law enforcement techniques, but ordered it to provide additional information about the evidence relied upon to obtain the warrant. .

Katie Townsend, lawyer for The Times who works for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the PressHe said they are pleased with the order and look forward to reviewing the less drafted order materials.

“As we have argued from the beginning, both before the district court and before the DC circuit, the public has a right to know more about the government’s basis for executing a search warrant on the cell phone of a sitting United States senator, for so we welcome this ruling. she said.

The Times first reported in May 2020 that federal agents, based on a search warrant, had obtained Burr’s cell phone as part of their investigation into whether Burr, who is not running for re-election, illegally used information from Congressional coronavirus briefings to sell $1.65 million. in stock just before the pandemic hit.

Burr was never charged with any crime related to the trades. The Justice Department confirmed in its June court filings that it dropped that investigation in January 2021. A month later, The Times filed its lawsuit, arguing that the records should be made public.

Several senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, were scrutinized by the Justice Department for potential violations of Congress’ insider trading rules for selling or buying stocks at the start of the pandemic. Burr’s was the only case in which warrants were obtained for his arrest. All investigations were closed without charges being filed.

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