‘US Justice Department completes review of documents seized from Trump’s estate’
Aug 30, 2022 - 03:03 AM
WASHINGTON (AA) – The US Justice Department said on Monday that it has completed the review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and has “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information.”
The filing in the US Southern District of Florida court comes after Trump moved to have a judge approve what is known as a “special master” to independently review the trove of classified materials retrieved from his residence.
Over the weekend, US District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the department to respond to Trump’s lawsuit by Tuesday and set up a hearing for Wednesday afternoon.
Cannon further ordered the Justice Department to produce a more detailed version of the property receipt, which lists the items the FBI seized during the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. The document is to remain under seal.
US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Juan Antonio Gonzalez said the department would do so, but noted that federal investigators had completed their review of the seized documents before Cannon issued her preliminary order.
Investigators are now “in the process of following the procedures set forth in paragraph 84 of the search warrant affidavit to address potential privilege disputes if any,” he wrote in a joint filing with the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Chief Jay Bratt.
“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,” the officials 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,” he added.
The department on Friday unsealed a heavily redacted version of the document that led to the FBI search.
The search warrant affidavit offers new glances into the ongoing federal investigation while blacking out large swathes of information that federal prosecutors maintain could jeopardize the life and safety of relevant individuals and the investigation itself.
An FBI agent whose identity was not disclosed said the federal government was “conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records.”
The affidavit notes that the inquiry began upon a Feb. 9 referral from the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The NARA informed the Justice Department that it had retrieved 15 boxes of classified documents mixed in with other official records from Mar-a-Lago in January. After the Justice Department was notified, the FBI opened a probe into how the records were removed from the White House and stored at the ex-presidential estate and beach club.
In all, 184 classified documents were included in the January tranche, including some that appeared to include Trump’s handwritten notes on them, with 25 documents marked “top secret,” 92 “secret,” and 67 “confidential.”
Some of the documents included markings that indicate that they contained information on clandestine human sources, special intelligence, and information covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Other documents bore markings indicating they were not to be seen by foreign nationals.
The 32-page affidavit stated there was “probable cause” to believe that other classified information, including on national defense, remained at Mar-a-Lago, as well as evidence of obstruction of justice.
The FBI seized 11 sets of classified information during its Aug. 8 raid, as well as other official government records, according to court documents.
The affidavit in its complete form convinced Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to authorize the FBI’s search.