Clemency records, legal agreements and ‘president’s appeals’ among records separated by Justice Department screening team in Mar-a-Lago search

Washington— Two detailed lists of documents seized during FBI search at former President Donald Trump’s residence in Florida and separated by a team of agents sifting through records for anything potentially privileged offered insight into how the team works and the wide assortment of things Trump has taken with him when he left the White House.

The material includes government records relating to clemency petitions, notes from Trump’s appeals, and settlement and warrant agreements, according to federal investigators’ logs that were inadvertently unsealed and published by Bloomberg.

The lists were attached as exhibits to an Aug. 30 court filing from the Justice Department that was unsealed on Monday and included in the court’s public docket. But the two detailed lists were supposed to remain sealed, as ordered by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, and they were quickly resealed once the errant post was discovered. Lists are no longer accessible. Bloomberg, however, obtained the logs when they were made public by mistake and released the recordings.

The Justice Department declined to comment, and Trump’s attorneys did not return a request for comment.

The newspapers detail documents in the custody of a Privilege Review Team, a group of federal agents separate from those involved in the criminal investigation into Trump’s handling of sensitive government records. The privilege review team was responsible for sifting through thousands of documents retrieved from a storage room and Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago and separating those that could potentially be privileged.

Justice Department lawyers told Cannon in the public portion of the filing that the privilege review team had identified 64 sets of documents, consisting of approximately 520 pages, that warranted further review and had been severed. into two groups, listed in the inventories which had been inadvertently unsealed.

Twenty-one sets of documents in the first list are primarily government records, public records, and communications to or from third parties, “virtually none” of which appear to be attorney-client privileged communications or covered by the proceeds doctrine. attorney’s job, according to federal prosecutors.

Among the items detailed in the first log are a “2019 Immigration Initiative Draft,” a document titled “Executive Action to Curb Illegal Immigration and Move to Merit-Based Entry,” and an e email printed between the White House and the National Security Council regarding the release of John Walker Lindh, a Californian who was captured alongside Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and released from an Indiana prison in 2019.

The first set also includes numerous documents related to clemency applications, some of which contain initials such as “RN”, “IR” and “JC”, or full names such as former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich , whose penalty Trump commuted in February 2020.

Blagojevich was found guilty of 18 corruption-related charges, including an attempt to sell Barack Obama’s open Senate seat after he was elected president in 2008. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011, and a federal appeals court overturned some of his convictions in 2015.

There is also a 39-page document titled “The President’s Calls” which featured the presidential seal in the upper left corner and contained handwritten names, numbers and notes which “appear mostly to be messages”, according to the newspaper. One of the notes reads “Message from Rudy,” although it may be a reference to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former attorney.

The screening team also listed the contents of a red folder marked “NARA letters and other copies” and the contents of a manila folder marked “NARA letters one top sheet + 3 signature sheets”. NARA is the National Archives and Records Administration.

The second detailed log of the privilege review team contains 43 sets of documents that are “legal in nature” or potentially sensitive, according to the filing, and which do not appear to be government or presidential documents, or classified documents. Still, Justice Department lawyers said “many of these documents don’t appear to be privileged.”

The first item listed is described as a medical letter from Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s former personal physician, dated September 13, 2016. A Bornstein letter with the same date was released by Trump’s presidential campaign in his first run for the White House and said the then-candidate was in “excellent physical health.”

The second detailed log also includes letters from the law firm “Morgan Lewis regarding taxes”, invoices for legal fees, a “confidential settlement agreement” between the PGA Tour and Trump Golf signed by Trump, IRS forms and a “mandate agreement”. for Alina Habba, one of Trump’s attorneys. The inventory also lists an “email accepting Trump’s resignation from the SAG”, or the Screen Actors Guildand a “nondisclosure agreement and contractual agreement regarding Save America,” its political action committee.

Federal prosecutors detailed in the unsealed portion of the 15-page filing the search procedure and protocols followed by the lien review team while executing the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8. .

The privilege review team, Justice Department lawyers said, has completed its review of the documents in its custody. The filing told the court what characteristics the team was looking for to set aside documents that could be considered privileged.

“During the search, Privilege Review Team officers took a broad view of potentially privileged information, to include all documents to, from, or even referencing an attorney (regardless of whether the document appears to capture communications to or from an attorney for the purpose of seeking legal advice and regardless of the attorney’s representative),” Justice Department attorneys explained in their filing. The privilege review team also treated any legal documents as potentially privileged.”

Nonetheless, Trump filed a lawsuit in federal district court after the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago and asked the court to appoint an outside legal expert to review the 11,000 documents seized by federal agents for all which could be the subject of claims by the lawyer-client. or executive privilege.

Cannon granted Trump’s request for an independent arbitrator, or special counsel, last month and appointed Raymond Dearie, a longtime federal district court judge, to check the records.

Trump criticized the Justice Department for the search and, in a post on his Truth Social social media platform last month, accused federal investigators of “incorrectly” taking his “comprehensive and highly confidential medical records and his history, with all the bells and whistles, “as well as personal tax records and “attorney/client/inside information.”