Trump calls for return of privileged documents reportedly seized at Mar-a-Lago
(The Hill) – Former President Trump on Sunday called on the FBI to return documents reportedly seized at Mar-a-Lago that are protected by attorney-client and executive privileges.
“Oh great!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,” Trump continued.
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken,” he added. Thank you!”
Citing unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, Fox News on Saturday evening reported that the FBI seized five boxes that included information covered by attorney-client privilege as part of its extraordinary search at Trump’s Florida property on Monday. The network also reported its sources said some records could be covered by executive privilege.
The unsealed search warrant revealed agents were authorized to seize any documents or records with classified markings or related to the “transmission of national defense information or classified material” as part of the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and other federal statutes by retaining records at his Florida resort.
An attached property receipt also unsealed Friday indicates the FBI seized 33 items from Mar-a-Lago, including 11 sets of classified items.
Trump has defended himself previously by claiming he declassified the documents.
Attorney-client privilege enables communications between an attorney and their client to remain private during an investigation, while executive privilege allows the president to keep some communications private from the other two branches of government.
But the latter privilege is not absolute. During the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon that executive privilege cannot be used to withhold evidence “demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial.”
Trump has used the defense before in efforts to block records from being turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot in a separate probe. A federal appeals court in December denied Trump’s claims of executive privilege to block the National Archives from turning over those records.
The Hill has reached out to the FBI and Department of Justice for comment.
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