The search of former President Donald Trump’s family home in Florida is bringing forth disturbing factors in regard to the search itself and the reasons behind it.
Questions have risen in regard to the documents protected by executive privilege and attorney-client privilege, and now in question are personal documents as well.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, whose conservative watchdog regularly sues the government to release documents and is seeking to compel the release of documents in the Trump search, said the government’s first court filings appear to describe an overly broad search that went far beyond classified records.
“They were engaged in a fishing expedition, and the warrant itself wasn’t about classified information, though it mentioned it,” Fitton told Just the News. “It talked about all sort of other documents. It basically gave the FBI carte blanche to anything they wanted from the Trump home.
“And the fact that a judge signed off on it is very troubling,” he added.
An array of documents were taken from the Trump home, including those protected by law.
“Occasionally a warrant collection can grab things outside the scope authorized by the court and the department is now following a procedure we would for any person affected this way,” one official said Monday night.
Kevin Brock, who served as FBI assistant director for intelligence under former Director Robert Mueller, said the new revelations raise legitimate questions about the over-collection of evidence that could lead to significant legal challenges.
Trump lawyers are weighing whether to ask a federal court to name a special master to review sensitive documents and protect the president’s 4th Amendment, executive, and attorney-client privileges.
“Trump’s attorneys could have a runway to argue the scope of the search is overly broad,” Brock told Just the News. “Search warrants normally require a level of specificity that seems to be missing in this warrant. Specificity is important in order to protect 4th Amendment rights from exuberant government overreach designed to find whatever they can.”
Brock said he was particularly troubled FBI agents felt comfortable seizing a record of Trump’s pardon of longtime friend Roger Stone, which the bureau disclosed in court documents.
He said it suggested the raid may have something more to do with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot probe, where Stone has been a figure of interest, than an investigation into classified records.
“The president’s authority to grant pardon and clemency is clear but what isn’t clear is why the retention of a clemency order would be considered illegal,” Brock said. “The fact that it is highlighted on the receipt list, and that it has to do with Stone, will likely provide ammunition to Republicans who are asserting that the search was less about a document dispute and more about a hunt for derogatory Jan. 6 information.”
Brock agreed that the search warrant included a “stunningly broad scope” of targeted evidence and warned it could have a chilling effect on past and future presidents.
“This apparently makes a novel legal assertion that any presidential record kept by a former president is against the law,” he explained. “You have to wonder what the other living former presidents think about that. They have the right and, apparently, clear desire to remain silent.”
Tallying the missing documents, the former president discovered that his personal passports had been taken.
Trump posted on Truth Social on Monday, “Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired) along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our country. Third world!”
U.S. citizens are allowed more than one blue passport book if they are frequent flyers, such as if they need to apply for more than one visa at a time.
The former president also likely has a regular blue tourist passport issued to U.S. citizens, a red passport issued for official government travel, and a black ‘diplomatic’ passport. He could have received the black and red passports as president.
It goes without saying that one cannot leave the country without a passport.
The Justice Department informed Trump’s team Monday that agents gathered the former president’s passports and are obligated to return them, and that officials are also reviewing seized materials that may be covered by various privileges, multiple sources told Just the News.
It seems rather than assessing what is legal to take in the raid beforehand or during the search, the FBI gathered whatever they wished and are now assessing which documents need to be returned.
In the meantime, Trump is without his passports.
The DOJ is taking its time sorting through the materials.
The DOJ has designated a process for separating materials that could be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege and “hopes” to return such memos to Trump within a couple of weeks, the sources said.