Former President Donald Trump in a latest lawsuit Monday asking that a federal judge appoint a special watchdog to review documents seized from his Florida home as a part of a criminal investigation of the removal of White House records when he left office in January 2021.
Trump’s lawsuit, which suggests the Aug. 8 FBI raid was politically motivated, also asks that the Department of Justice be blocked from “further review of seized materials” from his Mar-a-Lago residence until the so-called special master is appointed to review the documents.
Special masters are appointed in criminal cases when there’s a priority that some material seized by authorities shouldn’t be viewed by investigators since it is protected by attorney-client privilege or other aspects that weigh against it getting used in a prosecution.
Special masters were appointed to review materials seized in federal criminal probes of two of Trump’s former personal attorneys, Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the Turning Point USA’s (TPUSA) Student Motion Summit (SAS) in Tampa, Florida, U.S. July 23, 2022.
Marco Bello | Reuters
Trump’s suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida accuses the federal government of violating his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures with the raid, which is believed to be the primary time the house of a former president was searched in reference to a criminal case.
Along with looking for a special master, the suit asks that the DOJ be required to offer him with a more detailed inventory of property seized on the Palm Beach resort.
And it requests that the federal government return any seized item that was not throughout the scope of the search warrant authorizing the raid.
“This Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional,” Trump said in a written statement released after the criticism was filed.
“And we’re taking all actions needed to get the documents back, which we’d have given to them without the need of the despicable raid of my home, in order that I can provide them to the National Archives until they’re required for the longer term Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum,” he added.
DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley, in an announcement on Trump’s motion, said, “The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The Department is aware of this evening’s motion. America will file its response in court.”
Former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Charles Trainor Jr | Miami Herald | Getty Images
The lawsuit comes as a federal magistrate judge in that very same court is considering arguments by media organizations to unseal the FBI affidavit that substantiated the necessity for a search warrant.
That warrant indicated that authorities are investigating potential violations of laws related to espionage and obstruction of justice. Multiple sets of documents marked top secret were seized within the raid, based on court documents.
The DOJ is scheduled by Thursday to file suggestions for redacting portions of the warrant.
Trump’s lawsuit called the raid “a surprisingly aggressive move” by about two dozen FBI agents, which was done “with no understanding of the distress that it could cause most Americans.”
“Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It can’t be used as a weapon for political purposes,” says the criticism. “Due to this fact, we seek judicial assistance within the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid on President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.”
The suit says that Trump “is the clear frontrunner” in each the 2024 Republican presidential primary and general election, “should he resolve to run.”
“Politics can’t be allowed to affect the administration of justice,” the suit says.
It also says that the federal government told Trump’s counsel that “privileged and/or potentially privileged documents” were among the many items seized.
But the federal government so far has “refused to offer any information regarding the character of those documents,” the criticism says.
The suit argues that there was no reason for the FBI to raid Trump’s home because he was cooperating with the authorities who were trying to retrieve the records from the residence.
After 15 boxes of records were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago earlier this yr, Trump’s lawyers communicated with authorities from the White House, National Archives and Justice Department regarding documents that were allegedly “protected by executive privilege,” the suit says.
In May, based on the criticism, Trump “voluntarily” accepted a grand jury subpoena for his office’s record-keeper, looking for documents with classified markings.
Trump decided to conduct a seek for responsive records, and he then “invited the FBI to come back to Mar-a-Lago” to retrieve them, the criticism said.
On June 3, top DOJ counterintelligence official Jay Bratt got here to Mar-a-Lago with three other agents, and Trump “greeted them within the dining room,” the suit said.
Trump then left the agents with Trump’s record-keeper and counsel, adding, “Whatever you wish, just tell us,” based on the criticism.
“Once back within the dining room, one in every of the FBI agents said, ‘Thanks. You probably did not need to point out us the storage room, but we appreciate it. Now all of it is sensible,’ ” based on the suit.
“Counsel for President Trump then closed the interaction and advised the Government officials that they need to contact him with any further needs on the matter.”
In that storage room were “boxes, many containing the clothing and private items of President Trump and the First Lady,” the lawsuit said.
On June 8, Bratt asked Trump’s counsel to secure that storage room, and Trump accordingly “directed his staff to put a second lock on the door,” based on the criticism.
In a phone call three days after the raid, the suit says, Trump’s counsel delivered a message to Bratt: “President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people everywhere in the country in regards to the raid If there was one word to explain their mood, it’s ‘indignant.’ The warmth is build up. The pressure is build up. Whatever I can do to take the warmth down, to bring the pressure down, just let me know.”