Donald Trump has demanded the return of some documents seized by the US Department of Justice during an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida last week – apparently under the impression that posts on his platform Truth Social have legal value.
In a message published on Sunday, the former president wrote“By copy of this Truth, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the place from which they were taken. Thanks!”
It is generally accepted that social media posts are not legal documents.
According to a current legal document, a search warrant unsealed Fridaythe FBI seized files concerning top secret national security matters.
It was reported that documents relating to nuclear weapons were among those taken over by federal agents.
Trump called the nuclear weapons report a “hoax” and claims having had the power to declassify top secret files during his tenure. No evidence has been produced that he declassified the documents in question.
Saturday, citing unnamed sources, Fox News reported that in the search at Mar-a-Lago last Monday, the FBI seized boxes “containing records covered by solicitor-client privilege and potentially solicitor-client privilege”.
Fox News too said unnamed sources said the Justice Department denied a request by Trump’s attorneys to have those records reviewed by an independent third party.
Trump’s post on his Truth Social platform — which he launched after being kicked off Twitter during the Capitol attack — appeared to be a response to the Fox News report.
The former president too said“Oh great! We just learned that the FBI, in its now infamous Mar-a-Lago raid, took boxes of ‘attorney-client’ privileged material, as well as ‘executive’ privileged material, which they should not have knowingly taken.
The former president has used allegations of abuse to boost fundraising and positioning for a possible presidential race in 2024, his complaints echoed by supporters in the Republican Party and the US right.
Among them, Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota argued Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that the release of the affidavit that persuaded a judge to allow the FBI the research “would confirm that there was a justification for this raid”.
“The Department of Justice should show that this was not just a fishing expedition,” Rounds said.
Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said, “We want to know what the FBI told them?”
On Monday, Trump returned to the subject, affirming the FBI “stole my three passports (one of which expired), along with everything else.”
Trump added, “This is an assault on a political opponent on a level never seen before in our country. Third World!”
John Dean knows a thing or two about assaults on political opponents, having served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal 50 years ago.
On Sunday he told CNN that Trump and his allies “don’t seem to understand that the FBI and other federal law enforcement, as well as state and local authorities, execute search warrants every day, against all types of people.”
“And there’s a reason Trump caused this,” Dean said. “He’s the one who didn’t cooperate. It was he who forced [US attorney general] The hand of Merrick Garland. We don’t know what it is [Trump] has or had.
“Garland is not a risk taker. He’s not a daring guy who goes where no one else has gone. He’s someone who plays by the rules, so I think these people are going to have eggs all over their faces when this is over.
Trump claimed that the Mar-a-Lago search was comparable to the 1972 breaking into the Washington offices of the Democratic National Committee that fueled and baptized the Watergate scandal.
On Saturday, a Fox News host also went to the nixonian wellciting a famous assertion about presidential authority that the disgraced 37th president made in a meeting with David Frost in 1977.
Will Cain said, “You know, if I listen to the alternative media today, and they’re like, ‘Oh, classified documents, nobody’s above the law, are they? ? The rule of law applies to everyone.
“I’m curious. With regard to classified documents, the famous President Nixon said that if the president does it, then it’s not illegal. Isn’t that really the norm when it comes to classified documents? The president has the ability to declassify anything at any time.
Experts agree that this is not the norm when it comes to handling classified documents. Moreover, Nixon himself backed down from his infamous assertion.
After Frost’s interview, Nixon said“I do not believe and would not support a president being above the law. Of course he is not.
“The question is what is the law and how should it be applied with respect to the President in the performance of the duties of his office.”