AUGUST 22, 2022
Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking to halt the continued review of classified documents seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month until a special master or third party can be appointed to ensure that possibly privileged material is shielded from scrutiny, according to court documents filed Monday.
The lawsuit filed Monday by Trump’s legal team cast the search in stark political terms and described the government’s search warrant as overly broad because it authorized FBI agents to seize “boxes of documents merely because they are physically found together with other items purportedly within the scope of the warrant.”
The former president’s attorneys also accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of using the criminal justice system to alter the political landscape.
In their filing, Trump’s lawyers also said Garland’s recent statement acknowledging the search “clearly suggests that the decision to raid Mar-a-Lago, a mere 90 days before the 2022 midterm elections, involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican party, President Trump.”
The lawsuit argues that the government’s handling of the search warrant raised fundamental Fourth Amendment concerns, a reference to the part of the U.S. Constitution that shields citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures” without showing due cause for such actions.
Trump’s lawsuit comes as a federal magistrate said he would consider releasing parts of an affidavit federal authorities used as the basis for the search.
Last week, U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart ordered Justice Department lawyers to provide an edited or redacted version of the search warrant affidavit by Thursday for his consideration in deciding whether any of the document’s contents could be released.
Government lawyers have opposed the release of the document, even in its edited state, arguing that it would provide a “roadmap” to the continuing investigation, which is reviewing possible obstruction of justice and violations of the Espionage Act.
“The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said. “The United States will file its response in court.”
The Trump challenge, meanwhile, argued that the government’s “reckless pursuit of a search warrant” raised grounds for suppression of the government seizures based on Fourth Amendment violations.
Appointment of a special master by the court is needed “to preserve the sanctity of executive communications and other privileged materials,” the lawsuit argues. The court should block federal investigators from further review of the seized material until Trump’s legal arguments are decided, the lawsuit contends. It also asked the court to order the government to provide a detailed and more specific list of what was seized.
The lawsuit was filed on Trump’s behalf by three lawyers: Lindsay Halligan, a Florida-based attorney who specializes in litigation of water, fire, fraud, vandalism and theft claims involving properties; James Trusty, a Washington, D.C.-based former prosecutor who now focuses on multidistrict white collar crime litigation; and Evan Corcoran, a Baltimore-based former prosecutor who represented former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in a contempt-of-Congress trial for failure to cooperate with the Jan. 6 Committee.
In a statement on Truth Social, Trump said “this Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back.”