Trump Lawyers Argue FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Raid Was Illegal, Contest Jack Smith Appointment

President Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, saying they are politically motivated.
Trump Lawyers Argue FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Raid Was Illegal, Contest Jack Smith Appointment
Former President Donald Trump greets supporters at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer, S.C., on Feb. 20, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Jack Phillips

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump, sought to file numerous motions in his Florida classified documents case, claiming that the FBI’s mid-2022 raid on his property was illegal and contesting the appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

His lawyers stated on Tuesday that he intends to file about 10 motions related to his classified documents case, among them claims that the FBI’s August 2022 raid on his Mar-a-Lago property was unlawful.

In a motion to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, one of the former president’s lawyers sought permission to file “at least 10 pretrial motions” covering a variety of issues. These include the legality of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment, presidential immunity, due process violations, “selective and vindictive prosecution” on behalf of Mr. Smith, the FBI’s “illegal raid at Mar-a-Lago,” and “violations of President Trump’s attorney-client privilege.”

“For the sake of efficiency and in order to avoid requiring separate filings for each motion, President Trump respectfully requests permission to file a single consolidated brief in support of his pretrial motions not to exceed the 200 pages in aggregate,” the lawyers said, adding they want to file the consolidated brief with Judge Cannon this week.

In response, the judge later on Tuesday denied the request to file a consolidated brief and ordered his lawyers to file the motions individually. They also must adhere to the judge’s rules regarding page limits, as she noted in a paperless order, according to Law and Crime.

“With respect to Defendant Trump’s request to publicly file redacted versions of certain pre-trial motions on a temporary basis, the Court denies that request without prejudice,“ the judge wrote. After submitting the brief, she added, ”The parties then shall promptly confer on all sealing/redaction issues presented in the motions.”

Judge Cannon then stayed a Friday deadline until the defendant and prosecutors could deal with disputes over redactions. “Pre-trial motions that do not implicate potential sealing/redaction concerns shall be filed publicly on February 22, 2024,” she wrote, adding that the other two defendants “anticipate discussing or attaching discovery materials in additional pretrial motions, the procedures set forth in this Order shall apply.”

Several months ago, the judge responded to a submission from Mr. Smith’s team, telling him to file shorter briefs.

The former president is facing more than 40 charges in the case, with prosecutors accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents after he left the White House. Since being indicted last year, President Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, saying they are politically motivated and designed to prevent him from re-taking the presidency in 2024.

Walt Nauta, a valet for President Trump, and Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager at his Florida estate, have been charged in the case with scheming to conceal surveillance footage from federal investigators and lying about it. They have also pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this month, President Trump appeared at a Florida federal court for a closed hearing in the classified materials case.

“Defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss their defense theories of the case, in detail, and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” Judge Cannon wrote in scheduling the hearing this month.

Judge Cannon set a trial date of May 20, 2024, though she has signaled that it may be pushed back. Last year, the judge pointed to the 1.3 million pages of evidence that prosecutors in the Mar-a-Lago case have provided to the defense along with thousands of hours of security video footage shot at the former president’s resort. She questioned whether President Trump’s lawyers will have adequate time to review the evidence in the next six months.

“I am not quite seeing a level of understanding on your part to these realities,” the judge told prosecutor Jay Bratt, a member of Mr. Smith’s team, late last year.

Smith Appointment

In late 2023, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and two scholars submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that the Department of Justice’s appointment of Mr. Smith was unconstitutional and that every action against President Trump should be declared null and void.
“This Court should reject Mr. Smith’s request for certiorari before judgment for the simple reason that he lacks authority to ask for it,” according to the filing. “Nor does he have authority to conduct the underlying prosecution. Those actions can be taken only by persons properly appointed as federal officers to properly created federal offices.”

They argued that Mr. Garland, the U.S. attorney general, also “exceeded his statutory and constitutional authority” when Mr. Smith was appointed in 2022 to oversee the classified documents and election interference cases targeting President Trump.

About eight months ago, Mr. Garland offered a defense of Mr. Smith’s appointment, claiming that he was an independent prosecutor with integrity.

“Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law,” he told reporters in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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