Trump introduces motion for Mar-a-Lago search

washington – In a new lawsuit, former President Donald Trump has filed a motion asking that a special master be appointed to review the documents. captured by the FBI at his Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month. He has also asked the court to block the Justice Department from reviewing the material until that happens, court documents filed Monday reveal.

According to the filing in the Southern District of Florida, the former president’s lawyers wrote that a special master, a court-appointed monitor who would review evidence and review its content for insider information, is necessary to protect Trump’s constitutional rights . after what they called an “unprecedented” police operation.

Calling for a “careful review process,” Trump’s lawyers are also asking the Justice Department to provide them with a more detailed accounting of what the FBI took from his Florida compound and return any property not covered from search order.

That search warrant, approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland and then by the court, and later released at the request of the Justice Department, revealed that investigators are looking into whether federal statutes protecting national defense information were broken after Trump White House documents were released. of Washington, DC, at his Palm Beach mansion in January 2021 instead of being filed in the National Archives, as federal law requires.

The FBI collected boxes marked top secret, secret and confidential, as well as documents marked “top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information,” photos and information about the French president, among other things, the public disclosure revealed.

Trump’s lawsuit filed Monday says the search warrant is “excessive” and alleges that investigators took “allegedly privileged” documents created during his time in office and therefore “it is unreasonable to allow the “tax team reviews them without significant guarantees”.

Monday’s filing does not address any reasoning for why Trump took the White House documents to Mar-a-Lago in the first place, and does not refute investigators’ claims that some of the boxes the FBI seized contained documents related to national security information.

About 150 classified documents were found in the batch of material Trump initially returned in January, according to a source familiar with the recovery and another close to Trump. The New York Times first reported the number of classified documents in that first batch. It has not been revealed what kind of documents these were. The Times also reported Monday that the government has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Trump since the end of his presidency, including material from January, records provided by Trump aides in June and what the FBI confiscated at the beginning of August in Mar-a-Lac.


Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

CBS News has learned that filter teams have reviewed and continue to review the seized documents to ensure that anything that should not be in the government’s possession is returned. Last week, prosecutors notified Trump’s legal team that they say the former president’s passports were swept up in the raid and they were later returned after being detected by these filter teams, a police source confirmed.

But Trump’s legal team argues in its motion for a special master that “[m]“Adequate” safeguards are not acceptable when the matter at hand involves not only President Trump’s constitutional rights, but also the preservation of executive privilege.”

Until that cure is found, Trump argues, investigators should be barred from reviewing seized documents and materials.

“The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court after the required determination of probable cause. The Department is aware of tonight’s motion, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement: “The United States will file its response in court.”

Trump’s filing also contends that the receipt of property included with the search warrant disclosure that was provided to his legal representatives after the Aug. 8 search was completed is insufficient and requires more detail.

The first page of the submission is based on a political argument, rather than a legal argument to try to cast doubt on the legality of the search.

“Trump is the clear favorite in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary and the 2024 general election, if he chooses to run,” his lawyers claim on the front page, before going on to accuse the government of using the forces of order “as a weapon for political policy”. purposes” in conducting Mar-a-Lago research.

In the days after the search warrant was executed, Garland made an unusual statement to the media to emphasize that the search at Mar-a-Lago was a matter of “evenly applying the law.”

“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is a fundamental principle of the Department of Justice and of our democracy,” said the attorney general, “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law uniformly, without fear or please. Under my watch, that’s exactly what the Department of Justice is doing. All Americans have the right to the impartial application of the law, due process of law, and the presumption of innocence.”

However, the former president said in Monday’s filing that federal investigators have “demonstrated a willingness to treat President Trump differently than any other citizen” and asserted that his lawyers tried to convey a message to Garland before the Attorney General’s statement to the media.

According to the complaint, one of Trump’s lawyers spoke with Jay Bratt, head of the Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control section, and said: “President Trump wants the attorney general to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid,” adding later, “Whatever I can do to take the heart down, to take the pressure off, just let us know.”

Monday’s filing offers other alleged details about communications between Trump’s team and the Justice Department before the Aug. 8 Mar-a-Lago search.

On May 11, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena “to search for a document with classification marks,” according to the document, after which Trump says he complied, ordering his staff to search the boxes moved to Florida during the presidential transition. On June 3, at the invitation of Trump’s legal team, Bratt and three FBI agents traveled to Mar-a-Lago where they retrieved the responsive documents and examined the room where they were stored, according to the archive.

Weeks later, on June 22, investigators subpoenaed Mar-a-Lago security camera footage.

Federal investigators are now looking closely at the video evidence have obtained, which shows people at Mar-a-Lago with access to storage areas where former President Donald Trump’s papers from his residence were kept, including some classified documents, a US official told CBS News .

The video showing this possible access to a site with highly sensitive material remains a major concern within the Justice Department, but a source close to Trump’s lawyers said they are aware of the video and warned against reading it.

The former president’s filing comes as a magistrate judge in the same federal district is weighing whether to rule out a redacted version of the evidence that prompted the Mar-a-Lago search in the first place.

The question is whether the media, and by extension the public, have such a vital interest in seeing the search warrant affidavit, which typically contains specific information about evidence, that Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart should unusual step to publish it.

Several news organizations, including CBS News, have asked the court to unseal the affidavit, but the Justice Department responded that there is a need to “protect the integrity of an ongoing police investigation involving the national security”.

Faced with opposition from the Department of Justice, the judge wants to review the proposed wordings before making a final ruling on what can be disregarded

“I cannot say at this time that the partial redactions will be so extensive as to result in meaningless disclosure,” Reinhart wrote, addressing the Justice Department’s argument that they would so heavily redact the record that it would be of no value to the public. “I can ultimately come to that conclusion after hearing more information from the government.”

The investigative methods and identities of FBI agents and witnesses are at stake, prosecutors argued, and releasing the file to the public could “chill” the cooperation of other potential witnesses.

“We are demanding that all items wrongfully taken from my home be returned IMMEDIATELY,” Trump himself said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Andres Triay, Robert Costa and Fin Gomez contributed to this report.

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