Judge gives Trump until Friday to clarify special master’s request on records seized by FBI

A federal judge responded Tuesday to former President Trump’s lawsuit asking a special master to review documents collected by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago residence, giving Trump a Friday deadline to clarify his request.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen Cannon issued an order for Trump to clarify how the court has jurisdiction and precisely what he wants the court to order in the case.

She also asked Trump’s team to provide more details about whether they had served the Department of Justice (DOJ) with the lawsuit and the lawsuit’s effect on other proceedings determining whether portions of the affidavit in support of the search warrant were to be released.

The request was one of two brief orders filed Tuesday by Cannon, who was appointed to the post by Trump in 2020. She also issued a separate order asking two of her attorneys to properly format and resubmit their motions for appear pro hac vice, which allows lawyers to appear before courts in which they are not admitted for a particular case.

The former president filed the lawsuit on Monday to temporarily block the FBI from reviewing documents he seized from his Florida home until the agency appoints a special handler to provide outside surveillance, marking Trump’s first major legal action since officers executed a search warrant at the property on August 8.

A letter released Tuesday by the National Archives said the DOJ seized at least 700 pages of classified documents when he first retrieved documents from Trump’s Florida home in January. Authorities separately seized 11 other sets of classified documents earlier this month.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the FBI and the search as politically motivated, and he said the documents included those protected by solicitor-client privilege and potentially executive privilege.

He hinted at the lawsuit coming Friday, saying the FBI violated his Fourth Amendment rights protecting against unreasonable search and seizure.

His lawyers highlighted many of those concerns in Monday’s motion, asking the court to appoint a special master, who typically ensures that court orders are carried out. The date is usually rare in connection with the execution of a search warrant.

The request comes after the DOJ began its standard practice of using a “screening team” to review documents, which is designed to prevent prosecutors from seeing protected material.

Trump also asked the court to require the government to provide a more detailed property receipt, which lists the materials seized, and to return any documents not covered by the search warrant.

A federal judge signed the mandate days before the search, allowing officers to search “Office 45,” all storage rooms and other areas of Mar-a-Lago available for use by Trump and his staff in which boxes or documents might be stored .

The warrant authorized officers to seize any property in these areas that was evidence of violation of the Espionage Act and two other laws.

The laws included one law prohibiting the concealment, removal, and mutilation of government documents, and the other prohibiting similar actions when performed “with the intent to hinder, obstruct, or influence [an] investigation.”

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