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Trump lawyers again push for special master in FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago

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Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Wednesday once more called for a federal judge to appoint a “special master” to review documents seized from Trump’s Florida home by the FBI.

The narrowly focused filing in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach got here at some point after the Department of Justice argued that appointing a special master could harm the federal government’s national security interests.

The DOJ’s filing also said that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the federal government’s investigation” into the records that had been shipped to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence after the tip of his presidency.

And the DOJ revealed that the FBI seized greater than 100 classified documents from the Palm Beach resort during its search of the premises earlier this month. The agency also shared a redacted FBI photo showing documents with classification markings that had been recovered from a container in Trump’s “45 Office.”

Trump’s legal team in its Wednesday night reply accused the DOJ of twisting “the framework of responding to a motion for a Special Master into an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial consideration, presently or in the longer term, of any aspect of its unprecedented behavior on this investigation.”

The federal government’s “extraordinary document” suggests “that the DOJ, and the DOJ alone, ought to be entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating its unjustified pursuit of criminalizing a former President’s possession of private and Presidential records in a secure setting,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Additionally they accused the DOJ of providing multiple “misleading or incomplete statement[s] of purported ‘fact,'” but offered few specifics.

Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, has set a hearing for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET in a West Palm Beach courthouse.

Trump had sued to dam the Justice Department from further investigating any materials taken within the Mar-a-Lago raid until a special master is ready to research them. That step is usually taken when there may be a probability that some evidence ought to be withheld from prosecutors because of varied legal privileges.

The DOJ told the judge on Monday that its review of the seized materials was complete, and that a law enforcement team had identified a “limited set” of materials which may be protected by attorney-client privilege. That privilege often refers back to the legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of communications between an attorney and their client.

Trump’s lawyers responded Wednesday that the so-called Privilege Review Team was “wholly deficient” in identifying and separating all potentially privileged documents from the remaining of the seized materials.

Trump and his office have publicly claimed that he declassified all of the documents that had been seized by the FBI. But Trump’s legal team has not made that explicit argument within the civil lawsuit before Cannon.

The DOJ in Tuesday’s late-night filing said that when 15 boxes were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago by the National Archives in January, Trump “never asserted executive privilege over any of the documents nor claimed that any of the documents within the boxes containing classification markings had been declassified.”

The federal government also said that no claims about declassification were made when FBI agents went to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, pursuant to a grand jury subpoena to gather any more records in Trump’s possession that bore classification markings.

The DOJ said it obtained that subpoena in May, after the FBI developed evidence that dozens of boxes with classified information — beyond the 15 boxes retrieved in January — were still at Trump’s residence.

“When producing the documents, neither counsel nor the custodian asserted that the previous President had declassified the documents or asserted any claim of executive privilege. As a substitute, counsel handled them in a way that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified: the production included a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the documents,” the DOJ wrote.

At the identical time, Trump’s custodian of records had also provided a sworn certification letter, claiming that “any and all” documents attentive to a grand jury subpoena had been handed over, the DOJ wrote.

However the FBI later “uncovered multiple sources of evidence” indicating that more classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, based on the DOJ’s filing.

“The federal government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and faraway from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the federal government’s investigation,” the DOJ wrote.

That and other information led the federal government to hunt a warrant to look Mar-a-Lago, which was ultimately carried out Aug. 8.

Of their reply on Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers wrote that the DOJ’s account of the June 3 meeting “has been significantly mischaracterized.”

“If the Government provided the identical unfaithful account within the affidavit in support of the search warrant, then they misled the Magistrate Judge,” the previous president’s lawyers wrote.

Trump, in a social media post earlier Wednesday evening, also accused the DOJ of being “very deceiving” by sharing a photograph that appears to indicate quite a few classified papers strewn about on a carpeted floor.

Trump clarified that the FBI “took them out of cartons and spread them around on the carpet, making it appear to be an enormous ‘find’ for them.”

“They dropped them, not me – Very deceiving…And remember, we could have NO representative, including lawyers, present through the Raid. They were told to attend outside,” Trump wrote.

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