WASHINGTON — U.S. former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Monday asking a court to appoint an independent party to search for files the FBI seized from his Florida home to protect documents bound by personal privileges.
Trump claimed in a court filing he was targeted for political reasons and called for the appointment of a ‘special foreman’ to check the more than two dozen boxes of files stolen in the unprecedented August 8 raid.
The special master — who would not be acting on orders from the Justice Department that ordered the raid — would review the documents and determine which Trump could keep as “privileged” or protected from use in investigations.
“The burglary, search and seizure of Mar-a-Lago was unlawful and unconstitutional and we are taking all necessary steps to recover the documents,” Trump said in a statement.
“They took away documents covered by solicitor-client privilege,” he added.
The FBI warrant showed Trump was suspected of illegally stealing top secret documents and official records from his administration at the White House, which he had no right to possess and refused to disclose.
In addition to potentially violating laws governing highly sensitive records, the department said the documents were also important to unspecified ongoing federal investigations.
Investigations that could affect the former president include the full probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress by Trump supporters and an overlapping probe into his supporters’ efforts to rig the 2020 presidential election.
Appointing a special handler could potentially block investigators’ access to the documents, especially if he accepts Trump’s claims that most were privileged.
Additionally, it could be worrisome that the Justice Department is considering accusing Trump of obstructing their investigation by refusing to release the documents.
The lawsuit was not filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the original warrant was issued, but in more distant Fort Pierce, where the only judge is a Trump-appointed judge.
In the lawsuit, Trump claimed the FBI raid was politically motivated.
“The administration has long treated President Donald J. Trump unfairly,” it said.
Trump “is the clear frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary and the 2024 general election, should he decide to run,” it said.
Law enforcement “must not be used as a weapon for political purposes”, it added.
- Editor / additional report by AFP