(The Hill) – Former President Trump on Sunday called on the FBI to return documents allegedly seized from Mar-a-Lago that are protected by attorney-client and executive privileges.
“Oh great!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“We have just learned that the FBI, during its now infamous raid on Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of ‘attorney-client’ privileged material, as well as ‘executive’ privileged material, which they did not should not have knowingly taken,” Trump continued.
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the place from which they were taken,” he added. Thanks!”
Citing unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, Fox News reported Saturday night that the FBI seized five boxes containing information covered by attorney-client privilege as part of its extraordinary search of Trump’s property in Florida. Monday. The network also reported that its sources said some recordings may be covered by executive privilege.
The unsealed search warrant revealed that officers were authorized to seize any documents or records bearing classified marks or related to the “transmission of national defense information or classified material” as part of the investigation of the FBI seeking to determine whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and other federal laws by keeping tapes at his Florida compound.
An attached property receipt also unsealed on Friday indicates the FBI seized 33 items from Mar-a-Lago, including 11 sets of classified items.
Trump previously defended himself by saying he had declassified the documents.
Attorney-client privilege allows communications between a lawyer and client to remain private during an investigation, while executive privilege allows the president to keep certain communications private from the other two branches of government.
But this last privilege is not absolute. During the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon that executive privilege cannot be used to withhold evidence “obviously relevant to a criminal trial”.
Trump has previously used the defense in an effort to prevent documents from being turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot as part of a separate investigation. In December, a federal appeals court rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege to prevent the National Archives from turning over those documents.
The Hill has contacted the FBI and the Department of Justice for comment.
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