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 said in a hearing Thursday that she would unseal a more detailed inventory of the items seized by FBI agents. during the August 8 raid former president donald trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Residence.
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 name an independent watchdog, known as a special handler, who would review government documents seized by the FBI before the DOJ was 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 Department of Justice opposes the call for a special masterarguing that he will unjustifiably delay his criminal investigation.
The DOJ also said that a review of the documents by an internal department watchdog team has already completed their own exam and identified certain records that would potentially be exempt from use in the investigation because they are protected by solicitor-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 sealed a status report on that review by the so-called DOJ Screening Team.
During the hearing, Jay Bratt, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official, also argued 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,” Brat 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 barred from use in an investigation because they are protected by solicitor-client privilege.
Trump’s attorneys, however, argue that some of the records 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, Fla., where Trump has a residence.during the August 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 NARA 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 includes espionage status and obstruction of justice.
By law, White House records must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration when a president leaves office.
Trump attorney Jim Trusty during Thursday’s hearing repeated an analogy that has become popular among defenders of the former president.
“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.