Trump legal professionals are once more pushing for a particular grasp within the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump on Wednesday again urged a federal judge to appoint a “special master” to review documents seized by the FBI at Trump’s Florida home.
The tightly focused filing in US District Court in West Palm Beach came a day after the Justice Department argued that appointing a special master could harm the government’s national security interests.
The Justice Department filing also said that “efforts were likely made to obstruct the government’s investigation” regarding the records that were sent out after the end of his presidency at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
And the DOJ announced that the FBI had seized more than 100 classified documents from the Palm Beach resort during its search of the property earlier this month. The agency also shared a redacted FBI photo of documents with classification marks recovered from a container at Trump’s “45 Office.”
Trump’s legal team, in its Wednesday night response, accused the DOJ of “converting the scope of responding to a request for a special master into an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial review, present or future, of any aspect of his unprecedented conduct in this investigation.”
The government’s “extraordinary document” suggests “that the DOJ, and only the DOJ, should be charged with the responsibility of evaluating its unwarranted pursuit of criminalizing the possession of a former president’s personal and presidential records in a secure environment,” Trump’s attorneys wrote .
They also accused the DOJ of making several “misleading or incomplete statements.”[s] the alleged ‘fact'”, but offered few details.
Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump, has scheduled a hearing at a West Palm Beach courthouse for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.
Trump had sued to prevent the Justice Department from further examining materials stolen in the Mar-a-Lago raid until a special foreman is able to analyze them. This step is typically taken when there is a possibility that evidence should be withheld from prosecutors due to various legal privileges.
The DOJ told the judge Monday that its review of the seized materials was complete and that a law enforcement team had identified a “limited number” of materials that may be protected by attorney-client privilege. This privilege often relates to jurisprudence that protects the confidentiality of communications between an attorney and his client.
Trump’s lawyers responded Wednesday that the so-called Privilege Review Team was “utterly inadequate” in identifying all potentially privileged documents and separating them from the rest of the seized materials.
Trump and his office have publicly claimed that he declassified all documents seized by the FBI. But Trump’s legal team did not make that explicit argument in the civil suit before Cannon.
The DOJ said in Tuesday’s late night filing that when 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago were picked up by the National Archives in January, Trump “never asserted executive privilege over any of the documents and claimed that any of the documents in the boxes contain classification marks have been released.”
The administration also said no claims of declassification were made when FBI agents went to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, pursuant to a grand jury subpoena, to collect additional records in Trump’s possession that bore classification markings.
The DOJ said it received that subpoena in May after the FBI developed evidence that dozens of boxes of classified information — aside from the 15 boxes found in January — were still at Trump’s home.
“Upon submitting the documents, neither the attorney nor the administrator alleged that the former president had released the documents or made any claims for executive privileges. Instead, the attorney treated them in a manner that suggested the attorney believed the documents were classified: The submission included a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped with tape, containing the documents,” the DOJ wrote.
At the same time, Trump’s records clerk had also produced an affidavit alleging that “any and all” documents were turned over in response to a grand jury subpoena, the DOJ wrote.
But the FBI “later discovered multiple sources of evidence,” indicating other classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, according to the DOJ’s filing.
“The government has also developed evidence that government records were likely hidden and removed from storage and that efforts were likely made to obstruct the government investigation,” the DOJ wrote.
This and other information prompted the government to request a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, which was finally carried out on August 8.
In their Wednesday response, Trump’s attorneys wrote that the DOJ’s report of the June 3 meeting was “materially mischaracterized.”
“If the government made the same untrue statement in the affidavit in support of the search warrant, then they misled the magistrate judge,” the former president’s attorneys wrote.
Trump also accused the DOJ of being “very fraudulent” in a social media post earlier Wednesday night, sharing a photo that appears to show numerous classified papers strewn on a carpeted floor.
Trump clarified that the FBI “took them out of boxes and scattered them on the carpet so it looked like a big ‘find’ to them.”
“They dropped them, not me – very deceptive… And remember, we were unable to have ANY representative, including lawyers, present during the raid. They were told to wait outside,” Trump wrote.