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The FBI grabbed documents that were protected by attorney-client privilege, and possibly executive privilege, during its raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
The Department of Justice opposed the request of the former president’s attorneys to appoint a special master to review the records, a source said to Fox News exclusively.
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.
The FBI seized classified records from Trump’s Palm Beach home during its unprecedented Monday morning raid, including some marked as top secret. But the former president is disputing the classification, saying the records have been declassified.
“Sources told Fox News that some records could be covered by executive privilege, which gives the president of the United States and other officials within the executive branch the authority to withhold certain sensitive forms of advice and consultation between the president and senior advisors,” Fox News said.
The former president responded to the news on his truth Social account on Sunday, saying “Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged “attorney-client” material, and also “executive” privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken. By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!”
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart unsealed the warrant on Friday after a request from both the Department of Justice and the former president.
The warrant said that the search be done “on or before August 19, 2022,” and “in the daytime 6:00 am. to 10:00 p.m.”
“The locations to be searched include the ‘45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” it said.
The warrant gave the FBI the authority to seize “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed” in violation of U.S. Code.
According to reports, agents recovered 11 sets of documents that were marked as classified, including some that were labeled “Top Secret.”
That said, Trump noted on his Truth Social platform on Friday that he, as president, had already declassified the documents that were confiscated by agents.
“Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to “seize” anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request,” the former president posted.
“They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.” he continued.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “The list includes references to one set of documents marked as ‘Various classified/TS/SCI documents,’ an abbreviation that refers to top-secret/sensitive compartmented information.
“It also says agents collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents. The list didn’t provide any more details about the substance of the documents,” the Journal added.
“The warrant said investigators were seeking all records that could be evidence of violations of laws governing the gathering, transmitting or losing of classified information; the removal of official government records; and the destruction of records in a federal investigation,” the paper continued.
The report said that in all, agents removed around 20 boxes of materials.
They included “binders of photos, a handwritten note and the executive grant of clemency for Mr. Trump’s ally Roger Stone, a list of items removed from the property shows. Also included in the list was information about the ‘President of France,’” the paper continued.
“Mr. Trump’s lawyers argue that the former president used his authority to declassify the material before he left office. While a president has the power to declassify documents, there are federal regulations that lay out a process for doing so.”