Mar-a-Lago Documents: Trump Sues for Impartial Review

FBI raiding of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home

Trump files a lawsuit to get seized Mar-a-Lago documents reviewed neutrally.

Donald Trump requested a court to compel the Justice Department to return items not covered by a warrant and to allow a neutral third party to review documents the FBI had taken during the search of the former president’s estate.

A judge in a different case is debating whether to unseal some of an FBI affidavit that was written in support of the search warrant when Trump asked for a so-called special master to evaluate the records in a lawsuit he filed in federal court in Florida.

Following the Aug. 8 search, Federal Bureau of Investigation officers removed around 20 boxes containing 11 sets of classified papers, some of which were classified as top secret. The confiscated passports belonging to Trump were given back to him.

On Monday, Trump also requested a court order mandating that the Department of Justice produce further information regarding the property that was taken and halt all further document reviews until the special master is appointed.

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The brief by Trump’s attorneys stated, “Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans; It cannot be weaponized for political purposes,” Trump’s lawyers said in the filing, “Therefore, we seek judicial assistance in the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid on President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.”

In the past, Trump claimed that the attorney-client privilege protected some of the documents that were removed from his Mar-a-Lago home.

According to former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, Trump’s complaint, which was filed two weeks after the search of his property, is most likely a delay strategy that will not work. Prior to prosecutors seeing the documents, the DOJ’s so-called filter team, responsible with removing privileged material, has probably already begun scrutinizing them.

“It’s also highly unlikely that the material would contain anything privileged because classified documents don’t generally contain records covered by attorney-client privilege,” she said.


However, the court could ask the government to outline the review process it’s employing to make sure the prosecution team isn’t tainted by communications they aren’t supposed to receive, according to Rodgers.

A message requesting response from Taylor Budowich, the Trump spokesperson, went unanswered. One of his attorneys in the search warrant lawsuit, Christina Bobb, declined to comment when contacted.

The American people have a right to know why the search warrant was issued given that Trump “voluntarily cooperated” with the government’s “every request,” according to Trump’s attorneys Lindsey Halligan and James Trusty. Even though another Trump lawyer had written to the DOJ in June to guarantee that all sensitive material had been returned, the FBI had found classified documents during the search.

Trump has argued in the public eye that he had a “standing order” to declassify materials and that this is why he feels he did nothing illegal when he removed the documents from the White House after he left office.

Separate “filter” or “taint” teams may be used in federal investigations to detect and return sensitive information; exposing principal prosecutors or agents to this material may disqualify them or jeopardize a future prosecution.

The FBI affidavit that served as justification for the search warrant must also have its redactions proposed by the Justice Department by Thursday. The government’s claim that this would undoubtedly jeopardize the ongoing investigation was rejected by the court, who decided that the affidavit should be partially unsealed.