A member of the Secret Service is seen outside former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on August 9, 2022.
Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images
A Florida federal judge told a hearing on Thursday that she would release a more detailed inventory of items seized by FBI agents during the Aug. 8 raid on former President Donald’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Trump.
Judge Aileen Cannon will also release a status report from the investigative team investigating the removal of White House documents when Trump left office in early 2021.
But Cannon ended the hearing without ruling on a pending request from Trump to appoint an independent watchdog, known as a special master, who would review government documents seized by the FBI before the Department of Justice be allowed to use the records to further its investigation. .
Cannon said she would later rule on the request, which Trump filed in a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Trump’s attorneys had requested a more detailed list of documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago than the less revealing inventory they had previously received from investigators.
The DOJ opposes the call for a special master, arguing that it will unduly delay its criminal investigation.
The Justice Department also said a review of the documents by an internal service watchdog team had already completed its own review and identified some documents that would potentially be exempt from use in the investigation because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago
Source: Ministry of Justice
In a separate ruling on Thursday, Cannon said she would keep a status report sealed on that review by the so-called DOJ Screening Team.
Jay Bratt, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official, also argued during the hearing that Trump was not entitled to a special master’s review of the documents because “he’s no longer the president.”
“And because he’s no longer the president, he had no right to those documents…that ends the analysis,” Bratt said.
Special masters, often drawn from the ranks of retired judges, are usually appointed in cases where there is a risk that some of the documents seized by law enforcement will be prohibited from use in an investigation because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Trump’s attorneys, however, argue that some of the documents could be protected by executive privilege that would result from his being president when they were created.
In a filing Tuesday, the DOJ revealed that more than 100 classified documents were found at Mar-a-Lago, the private club in Palm Beach, Florida where Trump has a residence, during the Aug. 8 raid.
The discovery came two months after Trump’s attorneys, in response to a federal grand jury subpoena, provided the DOJ with sworn certification that a search of Trump’s living quarters and office found no evidence. documents marked classified.
Tuesday’s filing says there is evidence that government records, including those marked as classified, were likely concealed and removed from a storage room at this residence in an effort “to obstruct the investigation of the government”.
Authorities said the National Archives and Records Administration tried for about a year after Trump left the White House in January 2021 to obtain documents they suspected were still in his possession. When Trump relinquished 15 boxes of Mar-a-Lago documents earlier this year, they were found to contain highly classified material, leading to the DOJ’s investigation and eventually at the August 8 raid.
Trump argued that he declassified the files before he left office. But whether or not the documents remain classified is irrelevant under the criminal laws the DOJ is considering in the case, which include espionage status and obstruction of justice.
By law, White House records must be turned over to NARA when a president leaves office.
During Thursday’s hearing, Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, repeated an analogy that has become popular among the former president’s defenders on the issue of records.
“We’ve characterized it at times as a late library book scenario where there’s a dispute – not even a dispute – but ongoing negotiations with [the National Archives] which suddenly turned into a criminal investigation,” Trusty said, according to NBC News.
Trusty’s request failed to mention a grand jury subpoena issued for the documents.