INTERNACIONAL.- The Associated Press and other news organizations asked a judge to unseal records in special counsel ’s Russia investigation, citing overwhelming public interest in a case they said was among the most important in American history.
The news media coalition is asking specifically for transcripts of hearings in the ongoing prosecution of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as well as access to sealed search warrant applications filed by investigators.
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Any interest in protecting the integrity of the probe, which is examining potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, is outweighed by the public’s right to the records and by public interest in “one of the most consequential criminal investigations in our nation’s history,” the media court filing states.
“Under the common law, courts balance the public’s right to information about the workings of the criminal justice system against the legitimate countervailing interests of the government; here, that balance tips decisively in favor of the public,” the media organizations wrote.
Though Manafort’s court appearances have largely been open, the news organizations are seeking transcripts of portions of the hearings that occurred behind closed doors and out of public view.
That includes a specific court hearing in which lawyers for Manafort’s codefendant, Rick Gates, argued to withdraw from the case.
In addition, the news media organizations are asking for copies of applications and supporting affidavits for search warrants that have been executed in the case, including last year on Manafort’s home in Virginia and on a storage unit.
The public interest in those records could not be greater, said the media court filing. “The Russia Investigation goes to the heart of the integrity of the political process, the potential corruption or other misconduct of the President of the United States,” the lawyers wrote.