Officials have completed their examination of documents that were taken during a raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and it’s possible that “attorney-client privileged information” was seized by FBI agents, the Department of Justice stated in an Aug. 29 filing.
The Justice Department (DOJ) was responding to a motion filed by Trump to request the appointment of a special master to review the seized documents.
That team “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures,” according to the DOJ’s filing, which noted that the review was carried out before Trump’s request. Prosecutors will provide more information this week, they said.
The procedures include asking the court to make a determination on possibly privileged material and asking Trump’s lawyers whether they will assert privilege, according to the filing.
“Additionally, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) are currently facilitating a classification review of materials recovered pursuant to the search,” prosecutors said. “As the Director of National Intelligence advised Congress, ODNI is also leading an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of these materials.”
About a week prior in a court motion, Trump’s legal team called the FBI search of his property politically motivated and aggressive.
Trump and members of his team have said that while in office, the former president declassified a range of materials.
Cannon, in response, wrote on Aug. 27 that she'll likely approve a special master to look at the documents and other materials. A special master—usually a retired judge or prosecutor—is a neutral third party that’s used to settle some legal disputes such as those involving attorney-client privilege.
However, the Trump-appointed judge stipulated that the Aug. 27 order “should not be construed as a final determination on Plaintiff’s Motion.”
Seized DocumentsFederal authorities took about two dozen boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 that were allegedly classified or top secret, according to the property receipt. Avril Haines, head of the ODNI, told congressional lawmakers on Aug. 26 that U.S. intelligence officials will review the materials.
Trump’s complaint last week noted that agents and Justice Department authorities, including top intelligence official Jay Bratt, visited Mar-a-Lago about two months before the raid. The affidavit also noted that DOJ officials told Trump’s team to place additional security on a storage room that apparently held the documents.
The filing also claimed that after one FBI agent saw the storage room, they told Trump’s team: “Thank you. You did not need to show us the storage room, but we appreciate it. Now it all makes sense.”
In the Mar-a-Lago storage room, there were “boxes, many containing the clothing and personal items of President Trump and the First Lady,” according to the complaint. Department of Justice official Jay Bratt asked the Trump team to secure that storage room and the former president “directed his staff to place a second lock on the door,” it reads.