Trump files suit against government after Mar-a-Lago search

Politics

(NewsNation) —  Former President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in the Southern District of Florida Court following the “un-American break-in,” as he calls the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The motion claims that FBI agents who searched Trump’s home seized documents and other potentially privileged materials including photos, handwritten notes and Trump’s passports that were allegedly “outside the lawful reach of an already overboard warrant.”

Trump says his team is demanding that the Department of Justice be instructed to stop the review of documents seized from his home, that a special master be appointed to oversee the handling of the materials taken during the search, that the DOJ turn over a more descriptive list of property taken and that the items be returned immediately.

“Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes. Therefore, we seek judicial assistance in the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid on President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida,” the legal action states.

In the lawsuit, Trump insists that the federal government has declined to give him information about what was taken or why other than the Receipt for Property and warrant itself, which he says raises significant questions when it comes to his Fourth Amendment rights.

From Trump’s perspective, the lawsuit provides a detailed timeline of the former president’s move out of the White House to his 58-bedroom mansion in Florida and his communications with the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA.

Trump and his family moved out of the White House to Mar-a-Lago on Jan. 20, 2021. The lawsuit says, “That move, like home moves undertaken by most Americans, involved boxes. It was done during the day, with the boxes in full view.”

After settling back into his home, Trump says employees at the NARA asked about any documents that were inadvertently moved to Mar-a-Lago. From there, he says, his team voluntarily asked NARA movers in January 2022 to come to Mar-a-Lago and receive 15 boxes of documents to take them to NARA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit then points to NARA making a public statement Feb. 8, saying NARA “obtained the cooperation” of Trump representatives to find presidential records and that NARA did not “raid” Mar-a-Lago. Soon after, the lawsuit says the White House and the DOJ became involved in the matter.

On May 11, Trump says he voluntarily accepted service of a subpoena addressed to Trump’s custodian of records requesting documents with classification markings. The lawsuit claims Trump’s staff conducted a “diligent search” of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Through counsel, the lawsuit states that June 2, Trump invited the FBI to retrieve the documents.

The following day, a DOJ National Security Division official visited Mar-a-Lago with three FBI agents, according to the lawsuit. During that visit, Trump says he told the investigators “Whatever you need, just let us know.”

At that time, Trump says documents were handed over to the FBI agents and a storage room containing boxes was inspected. After the search, the lawsuit says one of the FBI agents said, “Thank you. You did not need to show us the storage room, but we appreciate it. Now it all makes sense.”

On June 8, the lawsuit says the same DOJ National Security Division official wrote to Trump, asking that the storage room be secured, so Trump says he directed his staff to place a second lock on the door.

“In the days that followed, President Trump continued to assist the Government,” the lawsuit says. “For instance, members of his personal and household staff were made available for voluntary interviews by the FBI.”

After a subpoena seeking surveillance footage from cameras at Mar-a-Lago was sent June 22, Trump says he voluntarily accepted it and gave the requested video to the government.

A search warrant asking for a look at all storage rooms and “all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to the used by [President Trump] and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored” was signed at around noon Aug. 5. Three days later, the hourslong search was conducted at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump says investigators took documents covered by attorney-client and executive privilege, his passports and got into his personal safe.

Investigators said they found sets of classified documents, some top secret, during their search of Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s team believes all of the documents were declassified.

Federal officials believe Trump may have committed the following offenses in connection to the documents: violating the Espionage Act, removal or destruction of records and obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department has tried to keep the FBI affidavit explaining the basis for the Mar-a-Lago search private, saying it could compromise their investigation. A U.S. Magistrate Judge has rejected their request to keep it completely sealed and ordered the agency to suggest redactions for the affidavit. The DOJ says there would be so many redactions it would become meaningless, but Trump’s team wants the unredacted document to be released. The DOJ’s list of proposed redactions is due Thursday.

The lawsuit claims the execution of the search warrant was a calculated political move due to the search timing when compared with the 2022 midterm elections and since “President Donald J. Trump is the clear frontrunner in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary and in the 2024 General Election, should he decide to run.”

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