During its search, the FBI seized 11 sets of classified materials at former president Donald Trump’s Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret.”
Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City, US, August 9, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DAVID ‘DEE’ DELGADO)
The US government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from former President Donald Trump‘s Florida estate, including material from the CIA, the National Security Agency and the FBI, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing multiple people briefed on the matter.
The FBI raid on Trump’s Florida home Mar-a-Lago
An initial batch of more than 150 documents marked as classified was recovered by the US National Archives in January, the newspaper reported. Aides to Trump gave the US Justice Department a second set in June, while a third batch was seized in an FBI raid earlier this month, it said.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for the former president did not immediately provide comment.
The search is part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden.
During its search, the FBI seized 11 sets of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret” – the highest level of classification reserved for the most closely held US national security information and which can only be viewed in special government facilities.
Trump seeks to block FBI from reviewing seized materials
Former President Donald Trump on Monday asked a federal court to temporarily block the FBI from reviewing the materials it seized two weeks ago from his Florida home until a special master can be appointed to oversee the review.
Trump’s motion, filed in a federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, also demanded that the US Justice Department provide him a more detailed property receipt outlining items the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago home during its Aug. 8 search, and asked investigators to return any items outside the scope of the search warrant.
“Politics cannot be allowed to impact the administration of justice,” the filing says. “Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes,” it added.
A special master can sometimes be appointed in highly sensitive cases to go through seized materials and ensure that investigators do not review privileged information.
When FBI agents searched the homes of Trump’s former lawyers Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan requested the appointment of a special master.
“The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause.”
US Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley
Trump’s request was assigned to US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Trump appointed to the bench. A Justice Department spokesman said prosecutors will file their response in court.
“The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” spokesman Anthony Coley said.
What is the probable cause behind the FBI raid on Trump, Mar-a-Lago?
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the judge who approved the warrant, is weighing whether to require the Justice Department to release a redacted copy of the affidavit laying out evidence for probable cause to search Trump’s home.
The Justice Department at a court hearing last week opposed its release, saying it would provide a “roadmap” of its investigation and possibly chill witness cooperation.
In a court order filed earlier on Monday, Reinhart said he agreed those were legitimate concerns, but said he wants to explore whether there is a “less onerous alternative to sealing the entire document.”
The Justice Department has until noon on Thursday to provide him under seal a redacted copy of the document that he could potentially release to the public.
The Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump faces from his time in office and in private business.
After Trump and his allies complained in the media that the search was politically motivated, US Attorney General Merrick Garland asked the court to release a redacted copy of the search warrant and property receipt outlining the items taken.
It is unclear whether Trump waited too long to seek the appointment of a special master.
Last week, Trump released a redacted Aug. 15 email he received from Jay Bratt, the department’s head of counterintelligence, who indicated he had deployed a “filter” team of agents tasked with weeding out privileged materials.