Special master also asked for a certified list of property seized by the FBI from the ‘winter White House’
A US judge reviewing records seized from Donald Trump’s Florida home asked the former president’s lawyers on Thursday to provide any evidence casting doubt on the integrity of the documents. Trump has previously made unsubstantiated claims the documents were planted by FBI agents.
Senior federal judge Raymond Dearie, appointed by another judge to vet the documents to assess whether some should be withheld from investigators as privileged, also asked the justice department to certify by Monday a detailed property inventory of materials the FBI seized in the court-approved 8 August search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Dearie asked Trump’s lawyers to submit by 30 September a list of specific items in that inventory “that plaintiff asserts were not seized from the premises”. Dearie also asked them to submit any corrections to the government’s list by that date, including items they believe were seized at Mar-a-Lago but not listed in the inventory.
“This submission shall be [Trump’s] final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the detailed property inventory,” wrote Dearie, serving as an independent arbiter known as a special master.
The search was conducted as part of a federal criminal investigation into whether Trump illegally retained documents from the White House and tried to obstruct a probe when he left office in January 2021 after his failed 2020 re-election bid.
Trump has called the investigation politically motivated. He has also claimed, without providing evidence, both that he had declassified any documents found at Mar-a-Lago and that the FBI planted documents.
On Trump’s request, US district judge Aileen Cannon appointed Dearie to vet the materials. The justice department has said more than 11,000 documents were seized, including about 100 documents marked as classified.
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the justice department can resume reviewing those classified records in its criminal investigation. The Atlanta-based 11th US circuit court of appeals also precluded Dearie from vetting those documents marked classified.