The U.S. Justice Department said Monday it has completed a review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and “identified a limited set that contained potentially attorney-client privileged information.”
The filing in the US Southern District of Florida court comes as Trump moved to authorize a judge known as a “special master” to independently review the trove of classified material recovered from his residence.
Over the weekend, US District Judge Eileen Cannon ordered the department to respond to Trump’s lawsuit by Tuesday and set a hearing for Wednesday afternoon.
Cannon ordered the Justice Department to produce a more detailed version of the property receipt, which lists items seized by the FBI in August. Mar-a-Lago’s 8 quests. The document must be under seal.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said the department would do so, but noted that federal investigators had completed a review of the seized documents before Cannon issued his initial order.
Investigators are now “in the process of following the procedures set forth in Section 84 of the search warrant affidavit to resolve potential privilege disputes, if any,” he wrote in a joint filing with Justice Department Counterintelligence and Export Control Division chief Jay Bratt.
“Additionally, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) are currently facilitating a classified review of the material recovered based on the search,” officials said.
“As the Director of National Intelligence advised Congress, ODNI is leading an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security resulting from the release of this material,” he added.
The department on Friday released a heavily redacted version of the document that led to the FBI investigation.
Search warrant affidavits provide new insight into ongoing federal investigations when federal prosecutors black out vast swaths of information that could jeopardize the lives and safety of relevant individuals and the investigation itself.
An FBI agent whose identity has not been released said the federal government is “conducting a criminal investigation into the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized locations as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records.”
The affidavit noted that an investigation began in February. 9 referrals from the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
NARA told the Justice Department it recovered 15 boxes of classified documents mixed with other government records from Mar-a-Lago in January. After notifying the Justice Department, the FBI launched an investigation into how the records were removed from the White House and stored at the former president’s estate and beach club.
In all, 184 classified documents were included in the January move, some of which appeared to include Trump’s handwritten notes, with 25 documents marked “top secret,” 92 “confidential” and 67 “confidential.”
Some of the documents have markings indicating that they contain classified human sources, special intelligence information, and information covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Other documents have markings indicating that they cannot be viewed by foreign nationals.
The 32-page affidavit said there was “probable cause” to believe other classified information, including national defense, remained at Mar-a-Lago, as well as evidence of obstruction of justice.
The FBI seized 11 sets of classified information during its August. 8 raids, as well as other official government records, according to court documents.
The affidavit in its entirety convinced Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to authorize the FBI’s search.