A federal judge is requesting lawyers for former President Trump elaborate on their request for the appointment of a special master to independently review records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago and on other key legal claims by Friday.
Trump and his legal team filed a motion Monday evening seeking an independent review of the records seized by the FBI during its raid of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, saying the decision to search his private residence just months before the 2022 midterm elections “involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.”
U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida Aileen Cannon posted an online order Tuesday afternoon, requesting Trump’s lawyers clarify specific legal claims being made in their motion — and the effect their demands will have on the case being heard by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart over whether to unseal the affidavit that led to the warrant for the search.
Cannon’s order requests Trump’s legal team file a supplement to its motion elaborating on “the asserted basis for the exercise of this Court’s jurisdiction,” the “framework applicable to the exercise of such jurisdiction,” the “precise relief sought, including any request for injunctive relief pending resolution of the motion,” “the effect, if any, of the proceeding” before Reinhart, and the “status of Plaintiff’s efforts to perfect service on Defendant.”
Trump’s motion, filed Monday evening, requested that the Justice Department halt its ongoing review of the material seized by the FBI during the raid — some labeled classified, and others covered by attorney-client privilege — until an independent review could be conducted.
At this point, a Department of Justice “taint” or “filter” team has been reviewing documents seized by the FBI during its raid.
A senior law enforcement official familiar with the process told Fox News that the review began soon after the search warrant was executed on Aug. 8.
The official told Fox News that it is standard procedure for the Justice Department to use a “taint” or “filter” team to go through documents obtained during a search — in part, to identify records that may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Fox News first reported last week that FBI agents seized boxes containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege during the raid.
Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News Saturday that the former president’s team was informed that boxes labeled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33, and a set of documents — all seen on the final page of the FBI’s property receipt — contained information covered by attorney-client privilege.
Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that keeps communications between an attorney and their client confidential. It is unclear, at this point, if the records include communications between the former president and his private attorneys, White House counsel during the Trump administration or a combination.
Sources told Fox News that some records could be covered by executive privilege, which gives the president and other officials within the executive branch the authority to withhold certain sensitive forms of advice and consultation between the president and senior advisers.
The Justice Department’s use of a “taint” or “filter” team, while standard procedure, could complicate Trump’s legal team’s efforts for the appointment of an independent special master to examine the seized records, as it is likely they have already been inspected by DOJ officials.
Trump’s lawyers, in a motion to request the appointment of a special master Monday evening, stressed that a “filter team” “will not protect President Trump’s rights.”
As for the affidavit, Reinhart on Monday admitted the FBI’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was “unprecedented” and formally rejected the Justice Department’s argument to keep the document leading to the search under seal, citing the “intense public and historical interest.”
Reinhart, in a filing Monday morning, said he rejects “the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”
“The Government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the Affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases,” Reinhart wrote. “I do not need to reach the question of whether, in some other case, these concerns could justify denying public access; they very well might.”
He added: “Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”
Reinhart gave the Justice Department until Thursday at noon to turn over proposed redaction to the affidavit, which he will then review and determine which parts, if any, of the affidavit be unsealed.