Records Were Seized at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence

The US National Archives recovered more than 100 documents bearing classified markings, totaling more than 700 pages, from an initial batch of boxes retrieved from Mar-a-Lago this year, according to newly public government correspondence with former president Donald Trump’s legal team.

US National Archives says 700 pages of classified records were seized at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence

The large quantity of classified material in 15 boxes recovered in January by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), some marked “top secret”, provides more insight into what led to the FBI’s court-authorized August 8 search of Mr. Trump’s residence in Palm Beach.

The May 10 letter was sent by acting US Archivist Debra Steidel Wall to Trump attorney Evan Corcoran.

“Among the materials in the boxes are over 100 documents with classification markings, comprising more than 700 pages,” Ms Wall’s letter said.

“Some include the highest levels of classification, including Special Access Program (SAP) materials,” Ms Wall’s letter said, referring to security protocols reserved for some of the country’s most closely held secrets.

The letter, which was released late on Monday (local time) by John Solomon, a conservative journalist who Mr Trump authorised in June to access his presidential records, contains additional information about Mr Trump’s handling of classified materials and his efforts to delay federal officials from reviewing the documents.

The letter shows that Mr Trump’s legal team repeatedly tried to stall the Archives from letting the FBI and intelligence officials review the materials, saying he needed more time to determine if any of the records were covered by a doctrine called executive privilege that enabled a president to shield some records.

Materials were not covered by executive privilege – President

President Joe Biden’s administration — specifically the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — has determined that the materials were not covered by executive privilege.

It found “there is no precedent” for a former president to shield records from a sitting president using executive privilege when the materials in question legally belong to the federal government, according to the letter.

The letter shows that Mr Trump’s legal team repeatedly tried to stall the Archives from letting the FBI and intelligence officials review the materials, saying he needed more time to determine if any of the records were covered by a doctrine called executive privilege that enabled a president to shield some records.

President Joe Biden’s administration — specifically the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — has determined that the materials were not covered by executive privilege.

It found “there is no precedent” for a former president to shield records from a sitting president using executive privilege when the materials in question legally belong to the federal government, according to the letter.

August 8th search

During the August 8 search, FBI agents recovered more than 20 additional boxes containing about 11 sets of records marked as classified.

Mr Trump’s legal team waited for two weeks before filing his lawsuit, which asked a federal judge to block the FBI from reviewing the seized materials until a special master could be appointed.

A special master is an independent third party sometimes appointed in sensitive cases to review documents seized in a search, particularly if the records could be protected by attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department previously sought a special master following FBI searches at the homes and offices of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, two of Mr Trump’s former attorneys.

Legal experts said the Trump document investigation differed from those cases because the records at issue belonged to the federal government.

“The idea that executive privilege in some way would restrict [National Archives] access to the records, or the FBI’s access to the records, sort of just misconstrues what executive privilege is,” said Jonathan Shaub. He is a former Justice Department attorney who teaches at the University of Kentucky’s law school.

“The person who gets to decide whether executive privilege is asserted is the president, so the special master would be Biden.

“That is the only person who is legitimately able to decide whether turning something over to the FBI would harm the national interests.”

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