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A federal judge asks lawyers for former President Trump to clarify their request for the appointment of a special master to independently review records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid on Mar-a-Lago and on other key legal claims by Friday.
Trump and his legal team filed a motion late Monday seeking an independent review of records seized by the FBI during its raid on Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, saying the decision to search his private residence months before the election midterms of 2022 “involved political calculations to diminish the main voice of the Republican Party, President Trump.”
U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida Aileen Cannon posted an order online Tuesday afternoon, asking Trump’s attorneys to clarify the specific legal allegations made in their motion — and the effect their Applications will take on the case heard by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on whether to unseal the affidavit that led to the search warrant.
Cannon’s order directs Trump’s legal team to file a supplement to its motion setting out “the asserted basis for the exercise of jurisdiction by this Court”, the “applicable framework for the exercise of such jurisdiction”, the “specific relief sought, including any request for injunctive relief pending resolution of the motion”, “the effect, if any, of the proceedings” before Reinhart, and “the status of the plaintiff’s efforts to perfect service on the defendant”.
TRUMP FILES MOTION SEEKING INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF DOCUMENTS SEIZED IN FBI RAID ON MAR-A-LAGO
Trump’s motion, filed late Monday, asked the Justice Department to suspend its ongoing review of documents seized by the FBI in the raid — some labeled classified and others covered by solicitor-client privilege — until that an independent review can be carried out.
At this point, a Department of Justice “contamination” or “screening” team reviewed the documents seized by the FBI during their raid.
A senior law enforcement official familiar with the process told Fox News that the review began shortly after the search warrant was executed on August 8.
The official told Fox News it was standard procedure for the Justice Department to use a ‘contamination’ or ‘screening’ team to sift through documents obtained during a search, in part to identify records likely to be protected by solicitor-client privilege.
Fox News first reported last week that FBI agents seized boxes containing documents covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially solicitor-client privilege during the raid.
Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News on Saturday that the former president’s team was told boxes labeled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33 and a set of documents – all seen on the final page of the FBI property receipt – contained information covered by solicitor-client privilege.
Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that maintains the confidentiality of communications between an attorney and their client. It’s unclear at this point whether the records include communications between the former president and his private attorneys, the White House attorney during the Trump administration, or a combination.
DOJ ‘TAINT TEAM’ REVIEWING TRUMP MAR-A-LAGO DOCUMENTS
Sources told Fox News that some records could be covered by executive privilege, which gives the president and other executive branch officials the power to withhold certain sensitive forms of advice and consultation between the President and Senior Advisors.
The Justice Department’s use of a “contamination” or “filter” team, although standard procedure, could complicate efforts by Trump’s legal team to appoint an independent special master to review seized records, as it is likely that they have already been inspected by DOJ officials.
Trump’s attorneys, in a motion seeking the appointment of a special master Monday night, stressed that a “screening team” “will not protect President Trump’s rights.”
Regarding the affidavit, Reinhart admitted on Monday that the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was “unprecedented” and formally dismissed the of the ministry of justice argument for keeping the document leading to the search sealed, citing “intense public and historical interest”.
JUDGE REINHART STRONGLY REJECTS DOJ’S ARGUMENT TO KEEP TRUMP’S AFFIDAVIT SEALED, CALLS ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ RAID
Reinhart, in a Monday morning filing, said he rejected “the government’s argument that the current record warrants maintaining the full Affidavit under seal.”
“The government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or the investigative sources and methods place an undue burden on its resources and set a precedent that could be disruptive and binding on future cases,” Reinhart wrote. “I need not wonder if, in another case, these concerns could justify the denial of public access; they might very well.”
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He added: “Especially given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of the residence of a former president, the government has yet to demonstrate that these administrative concerns are sufficient to warrant sealing. “
Reinhart has given the Justice Department until noon Thursday to deliver the proposed wording to the affidavit, which it will then review and determine which parts, if any, of the affidavit should be unsealed.