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Trump Seeks to Stall FBI Review of Items Seized from Mar-a-Lago

Tia Sewell
Monday, August 22, 2022, 8:46 PM

The filing requests an order that blocks the Justice Department from reviewing seized materials until a special master is appointed “to protect the integrity of privileged documents.”

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On Aug. 22, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida requesting that the court appoint a special master “to protect the integrity of privileged documents” that were taken from his Florida home earlier this month. The filing requests an order that would bar the Justice Department from reviewing seized materials until a special master is appointed, requires a more detailed account of the items that FBI agents seized on Aug. 8, and instructs the Justice Department to “return any item seized that was not within the scope of the Search Warrant.”

The lawsuit claims that Trump has been denied “even the most basic information about what was taken, or why” outside of “a vaguely-worded Receipt for Property and the warrant itself.” On Aug. 12, a federal judge unsealed the search warrant and inventory of seized materials, which showed that FBI agents had retrieved classified documents labeled as Secret, Top Secret, and Sensitive Compartmented Information. A Lawfare explainer of these documents is available here.

In the Aug. 22 filing, Trump’s counsel claims that while the Justice Department has informed the former president and his legal team that privileged documents were taken during the Mar-a-Lago search, “the Government has refused to provide any information regarding the nature of these documents.” Trump's counsel states that “[o]nly an evaluation by a neutral reviewer, a Special Master, can secure the sanctity of these privileged materials.” The filing further asserts that the Justice Department “has refused to provide President Trump with any reason for the unprecedented, general search of his home.”

You can read the motion here or below.

Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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