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The Justice Department announced in a court filing Monday that they already reviewed documents seized from former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and that they identified a “limited set” of documents that could include information protected by attorney-client privilege.
The DOJ said they would provide more information in a separate filing, but they said that prior to the court issuing a preliminary order to appoint a special master to go through the documents, a privilege review team went through the documents. A special master is an independent, court-appointed individual who in this case would be placed in charge of reviewing documents. A privilege review team consists of federal personnel not involved with the investigation itself, whose role is to sift out privileged information.
“[T]he Privilege Review Team … identified 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 set forth in paragraph 84 of the search warrant affidavit to address potential privilege disputes, if any,” the DOJ filing said. Those procedures included asking the court to make a determination on potentially privileged material, asking Trump’s team if they are asserting privilege, or acting on its own and keeping the material away from investigators.
The DOJ also said that they and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “are currently facilitating a classification review of materials recovered pursuant to the search” and that “ODNI is also leading an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of these materials.”
On Saturday, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida announced her “preliminary intent to appoint a special master” to go through the documents the FBI seized in their raid of Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. This came after Trump’s team requested an independent appointee, citing “exceptional circumstances.”
Trump’s team argued that the government’s decision to conduct the raid months before November’s midterm elections “involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.”
Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, Fla. Cannon ordered the Justice Department to provide, under seal, a “more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant executed on August 8, 2022.”
The government initiated the search in response to what it believed to be a violation of federal laws: 18 USC 793 — gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; 18 USC 2071 — concealment, removal or mutilation; and 18 USC 1519 — destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
Trump and his team are disputing the classification and say they believe the information and records to have been declassified.
Fox News’s Brooke Singman contributed to this report.