Former US president Donald Trump has asked a federal court to prevent the FBI from reviewing the documents that the agency officials seized during the raid at his private Palm Beach estate a few weeks ago.
Mr. Trump also demanded in the court filing that a “special master” be appointed to review the more than two dozen boxes of files taken in the unprecedented August 8 raid. The former president made the move claiming that the raid was a “prosecutorial misconduct” and that he had been targeted for political reasons.
In addition to potentially violating laws governing highly sensitive records, the department stated that the confidential materials were important in unspecified ongoing federal investigations.
Donald Trump says FBI took documents “covered by attorney-client and executive privilege”
Former US President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit earlier this week on Monday requesting the court to appoint an independent party to review the more than two dozen boxes of files seized by the FBI from his private estate in Florida for materials protected by personal privilege.
Trump demanded in the court filing that a “special master” be appointed who would not be directed by the Justice Department, which had ordered the raid. The “special master” would review the documents and determine the ones which Mr. Trump could keep as “privileged,” or protected from use in investigations.
“The Mar-a-Lago break-in, search and seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back,” said the former president in a statement. “They took documents covered by attorney-client and executive privilege,” he added.
The appointment of a special master could prevent investigators from accessing the documents, especially if he or she accepts Trump’s claim that most were privileged.
In a brief statement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) stated that prosecutors were aware of Mr. Trump’s lawsuit and would respond in court. According to spokesman Anthony Coley, the “search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court after the required finding of probable cause.”
The lawsuit by the former president comes after it was reported on Monday that FBI agents have recovered over 300 documents with classified markings from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The confidential documents included materials from the CIA, National Security Agency, and FBI.
Redacted version of FBI search warrant could be rendered “meaningless”
On August 8, the FBI conducted a surprise raid on the former President’s Palm Beach estate as part of an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified material, which included some of the government’s most sensitive files.
In the aftermath, the Justice Department released the search warrant used by the FBI in the raid, revealing that the department is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into potential Espionage Act violations, illegal destruction of government documents, and obstruction of justice.
Only parts of the search warrant were unsealed, but last week, Florida judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the DOJ to present a redacted version of the search warrant affidavit, after which he would move to unseal it.
The DOJ later revealed to judge Reinhart that the redactions to the affidavit were so numerous, that they would strip the document of any substantial meaning, rendering it meaningless for the public.
“I cannot say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing further from the Government,” said judge Reinhart in a statement.
Reinhart hinted at this in open court on Friday, when he mused about making redactions so extensive that it’s “meaningless gibberish.” He then inquired whether this was a problem of the news media rather than the government. “So they can have it. It may not be useful, but why can’t they have it?” Reinhart asked.