WASHINGTON – Attorneys for former President Donald Trump asked a federal judge on Monday to halt the FBI’s review of documents seized from his Florida estate earlier this month until a neutral special master is appointed to review the documents.

The request was included in a federal lawsuit, the first filed by Trump’s legal team in two weeks since the search, which broadly targets the FBI’s investigation into the discovery of classified records at Mar-a-Lago and foreshadows the arguments his lawyers are expected to make in the investigation.

The New York Times reported that the government has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago since Trump left office, including more than 150 documents obtained by the National Archives in January — a number that helped start criminal investigation. .


The lawsuit says the Aug. 8 search, in which the FBI said it found 11 sets of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, was a “shockingly aggressive move.” He also attacks the warrant as overly broad and argues that Trump is entitled to a more detailed description of the records seized from the home, and that he has long been treated “unfairly” by the FBI and the Justice Department.

“Law enforcement is the shield that protects America. They cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes,” the lawyers wrote on Monday. “Therefore, we seek injunctive relief following the unprecedented and unnecessary raid” at Mar-a-Lago.

In a separate statement, Trump said “ALL of the documents were previously declassified” — though he provided no evidence to support that claim — and called the records “illegally seized from my home.” -a sentence indicating that the search was authorized by a federal judge after the FBI presented probable cause to commit a crime.


The filing requests the appointment of a special master, unrelated to the case, to be tasked with reviewing the records obtained at Mar-a-Lago and identifying those covered by executive privilege — a principle that allows presidents to withhold certain communications from the public. .

In some other high-profile cases — including the investigation involving Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, two of Trump’s personal lawyers — the role has been played by a former judge.


“This issue has attracted the attention of the American public. “Merely “adequate” safeguards are impermissible when it comes to not only President Trump’s constitutional rights, but also the presumption of executive privilege,” the attorneys wrote.

The lawsuit alleges that the records created during Trump’s time in the White House are “presumptively privileged.” But the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether a former president can assert an executive branch right to the documents, writing in January that the issue is unprecedented and raises “serious and substantial concerns.”

The high court rejected Trump’s request to block the transfer of documents held by the National Archives to the committee on Jan. 6, saying then that his request would have been denied even if he had been a sitting president, so there was no need to deal with the difficult issue of the former president’s claims.


The lawsuit paints Trump as “fully cooperative” and compliant with investigators, saying members of his personal and household staff were available for voluntary interviews and quoting him as telling FBI and Justice Department officials during a June visit to Mar-a- Logo: “Anything you need, just let us know.”

But the chronology of events shows that the search took place only after other options to retrieve classified documents from the home were incomplete or unsuccessful. For example, in May, weeks before the search, the Justice Department issued a subpoena for classified documents.

Team Trump’s lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Eileen M. Cannon, who was nominated by Trump in 2020 and confirmed by the Senate 56-21 later that year. She is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Florida, handling primarily criminal appeals.

The months-long investigation, released after the Mar-a-Lago search, stemmed from a referral from the National Archives, which earlier this year retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from the estate that were supposed to be turned over to the agency when Trump left. The White House. An initial review of these materials concluded that Trump brought presidential records and several other documents that had been classified as classified to Mar-a-Lago.


FBI and Justice Department officials visited Mar-a-Lago in June and asked to inspect the storage facility. A few weeks later, the Ministry of Justice subpoenaed video footage from the estate’s surveillance cameras. After the Mar-a-Lago meeting, investigators interviewed another witness who told them there were still additional classified documents at the estate, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Separately, a federal judge ruled Monday that redactions of the FBI’s affidavit outlining the grounds for the search could be so sweeping as to render the document “meaningless” if released. But he said he still believed it should not remain closed entirely because of the “strong” public interest in the investigation.

The written order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart largely echoes what he said in court last week when he ordered the Justice Department to offer redactions of information in the affidavit it wants to keep secret. This submission must be made on Thursday at noon.


Justice Department officials sought to keep the entire document sealed, saying that releasing any part of it would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation, reveal information about witnesses and reveal investigative methods. They told the judge that the necessary redactions to the affidavit would be so numerous that they would strip the document of any material information and render it meaningless to the public.

Reinhart acknowledged that possibility in his order on Monday, writing: “At this point, I cannot say that the partial redaction will be so broad as to result in a meaningless disclosure, but I may eventually come to that conclusion after hearing further. from the government.”


Associated Press writers Kurt Anderson in St. Petersburg, Jill Colvin in New York and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.


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