Meanwhile, the Justice Department has been ordered to explain its grounds for raiding the ex-president’s estate
Former US President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to block the FBI from examining documents its agents seized during a raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence until a third-party overseer can be appointed. Trump described the raid as “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The lawsuit seeks the appointment of a ‘special master’ to review the material seized by the FBI and determine whether it is protected by presidential or attorney-client privilege before the agency can begin examining it. Trump’s legal team also requested that the Justice Department provide a detailed inventory of the seized materials, and return anything outside the scope of the search warrant.
Trump’s Palm Beach estate was raided by dozens of FBI agents earlier this month, in an operation reportedly aimed at recovering classified documents taken by Trump from the White House in 2021.
“To date, the Government has failed to legitimize its historic decision to raid the home of a President who had been fully cooperative,” the filing read. Describing the raid as “shockingly aggressive,” the document states that Trump is “the clear frontrunner in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary,” echoing the former president’s insistence that the raid was politically motivated.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has released the search warrant used by the FBI to enter Trump’s home, but the Justice Department has fought to keep the affidavit – used to establish probable cause and obtain the warrant – under seal. The Florida judge who approved the warrant has given the Justice Department until Thursday to release a redacted version.
While it remains unclear what was actually recovered in the search, the New York Times reported on Monday that a total of 300 documents with classified markings have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago: 150 turned over by Trump in January, and another 150 either volunteered by Trump in June or seized in this month’s raid.
The Times’ article was partly credited to Maggie Haberman, a journalist who has claimed since 2021 that Trump illegally mishandled sensitive documents after leaving Washington. Haberman has previously been described by the Hillary Clinton campaign as a “friendly journalist” who had been hired to “tee up stories” beneficial to Democrats.
Trump views the raid, and Haberman’s reporting on his alleged crimes, as a Democrat-led operation to prevent him from running for office again in 2024.
“This Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back, which we would have given to them without the necessity of the despicable raid of my home,” he said in a statement on Monday.