Thursday, September 21

Trump says lawsuit demands DOJ return documents ‘illegally seized’ during FBI ‘break-in’

Former President Trump on Monday said a lawsuit filed by his legal team against the U.S. government calls for the Justice Department to stop reviewing documents he says were “illegally” obtained during an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property, which he referred to as a “break-in.”

“We have just filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida strongly asserting my rights, including under the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution, regarding the unnecessary, unwarranted, and unAmerican Break-In by dozens of FBI agents, and others, of my home, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump said.

Trump reiterated in his statement the claim that the FBI prevented his legal team from observing the search, a claim his attorney Christina Bobb has also made. Trump has also claimed the agents broke into his personal safe — accusing law enforcement in the statement Monday of using a “safe cracker” — and seized documents “covered by attorney-client and executive privilege,” protections that allow some communications to remain private. 

“We are now demanding that the Department of ‘Justice’ be instructed to immediately STOP the review of documents illegally seized from my home,” Trump said shortly after a legal motion was filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Trump’s legal motion is aimed at stalling the FBI’s review of materials recovered at his Mar-a-Lago residence. In the filing, Trump’s lawyers ask the court to appoint a “special master” to oversee the process before the government can move forward with review. 

In his statement Monday, Trump criticized the search and also the judge who approved the search warrant through which the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from his home.

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“The wrongful, overbroad warrant was signed by a Magistrate Judge who recused himself just two months ago, from a MAJOR civil suit that I filed, because of his bias and animus toward me,” Trump said of the recently-unsealed search warrant executed by the FBI. 

Unsealed documents suggest investigators are looking into the former president’s potential violations of the Espionage Act and other laws through the mishandling of documents kept at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.

Trump noted Monday that his team is “taking all actions necessary to get the documents back,” so that he can give them to the National Archives “until they are required for the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum.”

Trump and the National Archives have been at odds for much of this year after the agency accused Trump of destroying White House documents that were meant to be preserved. While Trump continues to claim that all the documents seized by the FBI were declassified, it’s possible he did not follow any proper protocols to do so. Some of the documents seized were so highly classified that some legal experts said it’s not possible for anyone to declassify them, even a president.

The federal magistrate judge reviewing whether to release the affidavit that that led to the approval of the search warrant on Trump’s home also said Monday that while he believes public interest favors releasing the document, redactions prosecutors could make it “meaningless.”

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The order from Judge Bruce Reinhart expands on an order from the bench given last week that gave the Justice Department until Thursday to propose redactions it says are necessary to protect its ongoing investigation of the former president.

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