The Department of Justice admitted in a Monday court filing to seizing material “potentially contain[ing] attorney-client privileged information” from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence.
The DOJ admission comes as U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon weighs whether to appoint a special master to oversee the FBI’s review of materials seized in an August 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s legal team requested the special master last week, claiming that the former president needed a safeguard against the DOJ obtaining privileged information.
“Although the government will provide the Court more detail in its forthcoming supplemental filing, the government notes that, before the Court issued its Preliminary Order, and in accordance with the judicially authorized search warrant’s provisions, the [FBI] 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.
Judge Cannon on Saturday appeared to be leaning toward appointing a special master in the case. She said she had “preliminary intent” to honor Trump’s request.
The DOJ has a deadline of Tuesday to respond to Trump’s civil lawsuit, in which he requested the special master, and to provide the court with a detailed list of the material removed from Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. The DOJ said the list of seized material would be filed under seal and unavailable to the public.
Trump filed suit against the federal government over the FBI raid on August 22. In the lawsuit, the former president’s legal team says that the raid on his residence appears to be motivated by politics rather than law and order.
“[T]he Government has failed to legitimize its historic decision,” the suit says, adding that Attorney General Merrick Garland took the “unheard-of step” of holding a press conference over the raid and agreeing to release part of the search warrant application.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart released a heavily redacted version of the search warrant affidavit on Friday. Of the 32-page affidavit, 11 pages are almost entirely redacted, with more redactions throughout the document. In a companion document released Friday, the DOJ explained the need for its proposed redactions to the court. Those explanations were also heavily redacted.