Trump seeks independent vetting
Wants materials unrelated to search be returned
Published: Aug 23, 2022 09:01 PM
Former US president Donald Trump on Monday asked a federal court to temporarily block the FBI from reviewing the materials it seized two weeks ago from his Florida home, until a special master can be appointed to oversee the review.

Trump's motion, filed in ­federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, also demanded that the US Justice Department provide him a more detailed property receipt outlining items the FBI seized from his ­Mar-a-Lago home during its August 8 search, and asked investigators to return any items outside the scope of the search warrant.

"Politics cannot be allowed to impact the administration of justice," the filing says. 

"Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It ­cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes."

A special master can sometimes be appointed in highly sensitive cases to go through seized materials and ensure that investigators do not review privileged information.

When FBI agents had searched the homes of Trump's former lawyers Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, the US Attorney's office in Manhattan requested the appointment of a special master.

Trump's request was assigned to US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Trump appointed to the bench. A Justice Department spokesperson said prosecutors would file their response in court. "The August 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause," Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, of US District Court in West Palm Beach and who approved the warrant, is weighing whether to require the Justice Department to release a redacted copy of the affidavit laying out evidence for probable cause to search Trump's home.

The Justice Department at a court hearing last week opposed the affidavit's release, saying it would provide a "roadmap" of its investigation and possibly chill witness cooperation.

In a court order filed on Monday, Reinhart said he agreed those were legitimate concerns, but said he wants to explore whether there is a "less onerous alternative to sealing the entire document."

The August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump faces from his time in office and in private business.

The US government has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, including material from the CIA, the National Security Agency and the FBI, the New York Times reported. The items include material recovered by the National Archives in January and documents that Trump's aides gave to the Justice Department in June, the newspaper reported.

The search is part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden.