Trump demands review of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump filed a motion Monday asking a Florida federal court to appoint a “special master” to review classified documents the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago home two weeks ago.
The motion for judicial oversight says that the FBI conducted their search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment, arguing that the government has refused to provide Trump with any reasoning for the “unprecedented” search and that many of his personal belongings were taken but were not within the scope of the warrant.
“They demanded that the security cameras be turned off, a request we rightfully denied. They prevented my attorneys from observing what was being taken in the raid, saying ‘absolutely not.’ They took documents covered by attorney-client and executive privilege, which is not allowed. They took my passports. They even brought a ‘safe cracker’ and successfully broke into my personal safe, which revealed…nothing!” Trump wrote in a press statement.
On Aug. 8, the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified records, some of which they said were marked as “sensitive compartmented information,” government secrets that — if revealed publicly — could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests.
According to the filing, because the seizure has become a national interest, a neutral third party is needed to preserve Trump’s “executive privilege” of withholding confidential communications from his presidency to the public.
Trump’s attorneys also demanded for a more specific and detailed receipt of property, writing that the one he was given was “so vague and lacking in specificity that the reader does not know what was seized from [Trump’s] home.”
“We are further demanding that the DOJ be forced to turn over a REAL, without ‘plants,’ inventory of my property that was taken and disclose where that property is now located,” Trump wrote. “We are demanding that all items wrongfully taken from my home be IMMEDIATELY returned.”
Also on Monday, a federal judge acknowledged that redactions to an FBI affidavit detailing the reason for the search of the Palm Beach estate might be so “extensive'' as to make the document “meaningless” if released to the public, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the warrant earlier this month, ordered the Department of Justice last week to submit their redactions and outline justification for what the department wants to keep hidden from the public by Thursday.
Shortly after Thursday’s hearing, the DOJ filed a redacted version of the application for the search warrant, revealing that the basis of the raid was for FBI agents to look for “evidence of a crime” and “contraband, fruits of crime or other items illegally possessed.”
The DOJ has sought to keep the documents sealed out of concern that the disclosure would “irreparably harm” its ongoing criminal investigation.
Their application for the search warrant stated that the search was related to potential violations of three criminal statutes: willful retention of national defense information, concealment or removal of government records and obstruction of a federal investigation.
Trump’s attorney, Lindsey Halligan, wrote in the motion that the department is trying to keep their affidavit under wraps because they “simply wanted the camel’s nose under the tent so they could rummage for either politically helpful documents or support other efforts to thwart President Trump from running again, such as the January 6 investigation.”
With several major news media outlets requesting that the court release the documents, Reinhart said because of the “intense” public interest in the investigation, he believes that it should not remain sealed in its entirety.
If the judge moves forward with unsealing parts of the affidavit, it could provide more details as to what prompted the FBI to conduct such a sudden and extraordinary search and whether the 45th president retained top secret government records from the White House.