Mar-a-Lago search: DOJ completes review of potentially privileged documents

The Justice Department says FBI agents have completed their review of documents that could have fallen under attorney-client privilege. The announcement could signal the next step relating to the investigation into documents that had been stored and eventually taken from former President Donald Trump’s private residence, Mar-a-Lago.

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The Washington Post reported that U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon is planning to hold a hearing Thursday on Trump’s motion for a special master.

The Justice Department said it used a “filter team” to look at material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators.

The DOJ’s filing came after a ruling on Saturday by Cannon saying that she is leaning toward appointing a special master, but that her scheduling of a hearing “should not be construed as a final determination on Plaintiff’s Motion.”

DOJ 8/29/22 filing by National Content Desk on Scribd

Even before Cannon announced the order for the hearing, the filter team found “a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” of the search warrant to deal with them, the Post reported.

The Justice Department is also reviewing the documents for any classified materials, CNN reported.

The DOJ will release more information later this week, The Associated Press reported.

The FBI searched Trump’s south Florida home earlier this month after it had launched an investigation into how the former president came to store boxes of White House records at his personal residence earlier this year, the AP reported.

The search was conducted after the National Archives and Records Administration said it received 15 boxes of White House records, some of which were classified documents, earlier this year. The records were supposed to have been transferred to the National Archives at the end of Trump’s term.

The locations where the documents were kept were not among the authorized locations for the storage of classified information, officials said, and the government alleged that the records that had been collected in January were accessible to Trump, his staff, family and members of the private club and their guests, the AP reported.

An affidavit released last week indicated that the documents transferred in January contained 184 documents that were marked classified in some way with 67 marked confidential, 92 secret and 25 top secret, the AP reported.

The archives then alerted the Justice Department in February after a preliminary review of the initial 15 boxes found “a lot of classified records.” The DOJ said in the affidavit that Trump had several opportunities to return government documents that had been stored at his home and that the former president did not do so.

Trump said he had declassified the documents that were in his possession before he left office, the AP reported.

Trump called the search of his home “a political attack on our country” and “it’s a disgrace,” the AP reported.

The special master, if appointed, would return any information that was collected that went beyond what the search warrant listed and any documents that come under executive privilege and that should not be reviewed, the Post reported.