PC: ABC News
Special Master Needed to Review FBI Raid of Mar-a-Lago, Trump Lawyers Argue
On Wednesday, attorneys for former President Donald Trump requested once more that a federal judge appoint a “special master” to examine the records that the FBI had taken from Trump’s Florida home.
One day after the Department of Justice argued that appointing a special master could jeopardise the government’s interests in national security, a narrowly targeted filing was made in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach.
Additionally, the DOJ claimed that “efforts were probably made to obstruct the government’s investigation” into the documents that had been delivered to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after his presidency.
Additionally, the FBI discovered more than 100 secret documents at the Palm Beach resort during its earlier this month investigation, according to the DOJ. The organisation also released a censored FBI image of documents with classification markings that were found in a container in Trump’s “45 Office” and had been recovered.
In a response on Wednesday night, the legal team for President Trump charged the DOJ with misconstruing “the framework of responding to a motion for a Special Master into an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial consideration, currently or in the future, of any aspect of its unprecedented behaviour in this investigation.”
“That the DOJ, and the DOJ alone, should be entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating its unjustified pursuit of criminalising a former President’s possession of personal and Presidential records in a secure setting,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in response to the government’s “extraordinary document.”
In addition, they claimed that the DOJ had made numerous “misleading or incomplete statement[s] of supposed ‘truth’,” but they provided little details.
A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET at a West Palm Beach courthouse by Judge Aileen Cannon, who was chosen by Trump.
Trump had filed a lawsuit to order the Justice Department to stop looking into any files obtained during the Mar-a-Lago raid until a special master could examine them. When there is a potential that any evidence should be concealed from prosecutors due to various legal protections, that action is often pursued.
On Monday, the DOJ informed the judge that its examination of the seized documents was finished and that a law enforcement team had discovered a “limited set” of documents that might be covered by the attorney-client privilege. The legal notion that safeguards the privacy of conversations between an attorney and their client is known as that privilege.
The so-called Privilege Review Team was “wholly incompetent” in identifying and separating any potentially protected documents from the rest of the confiscated information, according to a statement made by Trump’s attorneys on Wednesday.
Trump and his office have made a public declaration that they had declassified all the records that the FBI had seized. However, in the civil case before Cannon, Trump’s legal team has not explicitly argued so.
In a late-night filing on Tuesday, the DOJ claimed that Trump “never asserted executive privilege over any of the documents” and “never claimed that any of the documents in the boxes containing classification markings had been declassified” when the National Archives removed 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January.
The government also said that no declassification claims were made when FBI agents visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3 in response to a grand jury subpoena to gather any further materials in Trump’s possession with classification marks.
The FBI found evidence that additional to the 15 boxes removed in January, dozens more boxes containing sensitive information were remained at Trump’s property, according to the DOJ, which claimed to have gotten that subpoena in May.
“Neither counsel nor the custodian claimed that the former President had declassified the papers or made any claim of executive privilege while delivering the documents. The production comprised a single Redweld envelope that was double-wrapped in tape and contained the documents instead of handling them in a way that showed counsel thought they were secret, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ noted that at the same time, Trump’s records custodian had also supplied a sworn certification letter stating that “any and all” materials in response to a grand jury subpoena had been delivered.
However, the DOJ’s complaint states that the FBI later “uncovered various sources of information” suggesting that more secret documents were still there at Mar-a-Lago.
The DOJ stated that “the government also gathered evidence” that “efforts were likely made to hinder the government’s investigation” and that “government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room.”
The government requested a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago based on that and other facts, and one was eventually obtained on August 8.
Trump’s attorneys responded on Wednesday, claiming that the DOJ’s description of the meeting on June 3 “has been dramatically mischaracterized.”
The government may have misled the Magistrate Judge if it gave the same false information in the affidavit supporting the search request, according to the former president’s attorneys.
Earlier on Wednesday night, Trump claimed that the DOJ was “very deceptive” by tweeting a picture that appears to show a lot of sensitive documents scattered around a carpeted floor.
In order to make it appear as though they had made a significant “find,” the FBI “pulled them out of containers and put them around on the carpet,” according to Trump.
They dropped them, not me, which is really misleading.
Also keep in mind that throughout the raid, we were not allowed to have any representatives, including attorneys. To wait outside, they were instructed,” Trump wrote.