Justice Department Accused of Taking Attorney-Client Material at Mar-a-Lago

Fox News is reporting that the FBI seized boxes containing attorney-client privileged and potentially executive privileged material during its raid Mar-a-Lago. When the raid occurred, I noted that the legal team had likely marked material as privileged at the residence and that the collection could create an immediate conflict over such material. Now, sources are telling Fox that the Justice Department not only took attorney-client material but has refused Trump requests for a special master to review the records.

The request for a special master would seem reasonable, particularly given the sweeping language used in the warrant. It is hard to see what material could not be gathered under this warrant.

Attachment B of the warrant has this provision:

“Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes; b.. Information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material”

Thus, the agents could not only take an entire box if it contained a single document with classification markings of any kind but could then take all boxes around that box.

It is not surprising that dozens of boxes were seized.

Given that sweeping language (and the various lawsuits and investigations facing Trump), it would seem reasonable to request a special magistrate. That is why the reported refusal is so concerning. What is the harm from such a review? The material is now under lock and key. There is no approaching deadline in court or referenced grand jury.

Moreover, many have accused the Justice Department of using this search as a pretext. While saying that they were seeking potential national security information, critics have alleged that the real purpose was to gather evidence that could be used against Trump in a prosecution over his role in January 6th riot. I have noted that such a pretext would be deeply disturbing given the documented history of Justice Department officials misleading or lying to courts in prior Trump-related investigations.  The continuation of such subterfuge could be disclosed in a later oversight investigation.

The use of a special master could have helped quell such claims of a pretextual search. Conversely, the denial of such a protective measure would fuel even greater concerns.

The refusal to take this protective measures is almost as troubling as the sweeping language in the search warrant itself. We need to see the affidavit that led to this search warrant. I am not going to assume that the search was unwarranted until I see that evidence. However, in the interim, Attorney General Merrick Garland could have allowed accommodations for this review to assure not just the Trump team but the public that the search was not a pretext for seeking other evidence like January 6th-related material.

306 thoughts on “Justice Department Accused of Taking Attorney-Client Material at Mar-a-Lago”

  1. With such corruption at the very highest levels there’s no way anyone can honestly view today’s fed as legitimate American government. Government and country — two disparate entities which cannot continue to coexist.

  2. Starting a column with “Fox News is reporting” is a bad sign, especially when the story itself says something different.

    “It is unclear, at this point, if the records include communications between the former president and his private attorneys, White House counsel during the Trump administration, or a combination.”

    The same Fox News has claimed evidence was planted, Trump was fully cooperating, Trump did nothing wrong, Trump wasn’t given a copy of the subpoena, and that nobody was allowed to watch the search. Fox News has almost become the official Trump outlet for propaganda.

    I did hear one notable exception yesterday when one host asked a guest, “What about Trump’s lies?” He cited Trump lying about Obama not following the process regarding records sent to Chicago and lying about planted evidence. Maybe there’s the slightest hope. That host probably doesn’t have a job anymore.

    1. FWIW, Fox is no more inaccurate than CNN or MSNBC. All three cable networks push laughable crap and curate what facts they present to tell the story they want. That you focus on Fox tells me you’re both partisan and foolishly ignorant of the media game. It’s not ‘telling you the news,’ it’s ‘telling you the partisan narrative they think you want to hear.’

      1. I watch the sometimes unwatchable Fox News to get a more rounded view and try to understand what others are thinking. I agree all networks can be laughable but Fox has gone all in to try to protect their guy and if their on air hosts don’t tell the lies (though Hannity and Tucker do) they allow their panelists to say anything without any pushback.

        1. “(though Hannity and Tucker do)”

          Your problem Enigma is that where Trump is concerned you have been wrong almost every time, while both of them have mostly been correct. Maybe you should watch them more and check your facts.

    2. “Starting a column with “Fox News is reporting” is a bad sign . . .”

      Starting your comment with an ad hominem attack is worse than a bad sign.

        1. “When you can’t . . .”

          Which is what you did in your initial comment.

          Are you completely lacking in the ability to introspect?

            1. Enigma, the things you heard should also include that Trump is a racist because of something that might have happened 20 years before he was born. At least that comment puts yours into the appropriate perspective.

                    1. Enigma: You published the story and rewrote it backdating it, but you weren’t careful about the rewritten dates. That was your excuse and the fact that the story had to be changed proves what I have said all along.

                    2. Yes, Enigma, you do change those things, but you need to be more careful when you do. Let me post our last discussion on this subject where I discussed your alterations.
                      “I don’t owe you any resposne. Who the F*** are you “

                      Enigma, you are the one objecting to a narrative that involved you calling Fred and Donald Trump racists. Your information was poor and the relationships you created were laughable. I provided a narrative of the facts that you can dispute, but you don’t. You are only able to use four-letter words and throw insults. That is fine with me for that is proof enough.

                      “Made another claim I altered an article, another lie. “

                      Is it a lie? This is what you linked everyone to in 2017.


                      That op-ed was written in 2016, our discussion was in 2017 (? 2016) and that was linked by you in 2017 but when I looked it took us to May of 2018. Something changed. The more you speak the more your honesty comes into question.

                      Of course, I checked again and now it is back to 2016, but I copied the link yesterday before letting you know, and this is what it said on top. Take note of the 2018 date.


                      The Sins of the Fathers

                      View all posts by enigmainblackcomMay 6, 2018

                      Whether you agree or not with Paul is not the question. You sent him that link that seems to change for reasons that cannot involve me. Today your prior link provides the above.

                      The Sins of the Fathers
                      View all posts by enigmainblackcomJuly 21, 2016

                      Take note: The original date on the HTTP was 2016/05/03.

                      I don’t think I have to proceed further. You have proven what you are, a liar.

                      I will keep this response handy for incidents like this that recur.

                    3. In your case Enigma, things change from one day to the next. Maybe you missed your opportunity to work for the FBI on faulty FISA requests.

                    4. “Find in all that he said that I rewrote an article (apparently before I met him) to take back something I wrote. There is no arguing with a fool.”

                      Can i buy a noun ?

                    5. Enigma, whether or not you believe me to be an idiot doesn’t change the fact you claimed Trump a racist because of an incident 20 years before he was born, possibly involving his father Fred Trump. You have done everything you can to hide it, but as a last resort, you turn to ad hominem. I’ll accept your confession.

                    6. Never said it. I’ve called Trump a racist, but based on his own actions going back to marking applications for rentals “C” for colored so he could refuse to rent to Black people. I’ve listed dozens of other reasons, just not the one you claim.

                      Continue telling your lie. I see why you like Trump because you believe telling a lie often enough makes it true. Maybe you are deluded enough to believe it yourself. One thing for sure is that you are a waste of my time. Goodbye.

                    7. Enigma, you get into trouble by making generalities and adding more to an action then actually exists.

                      You called Trump a racist based on that piece of history that might have occurred 20 years before Trump was born. You had no other reason to bring it up at the time.

                      You continue with your errant statements.

                      “based on his own actions going back to marking applications for rentals “C” for colored so he could refuse to rent to Black people.”

                      Trump never marked a C and the rest of the statement is your conclusion.

                      Most of your claims step over the bounds of reality. Just look at your discussion with John Say. You did the same there as you did here.

  3. Conservatives have been supporting “preemptive” Stop & Frisk searches – in violation of the 4th Amendment’s clear wording – for over 50 years.

    Mostly poor African-Americans have been subjected to far worse searches with far less evidence for 50 years. Trump has received far better treatment than most commoners and in this case we know he actually stole the documents! There is excellence video surveillance at Mar A Lago of the entire crime.

    There are two justices – one for the elite and one for the commoners! Trump is getting a small taste of the justice practices he helped create!

    1. Stop and frisk has not, based on crime rates, been disproportional. Simply put Blacks and Hispanics commit the overwhelming majority of crimes in New York City. If New York City were all white, the murder rate would drop by 91 percent, the robbery rate by 81 percent, and the shootings rate by 97 percent. And it seems to go that way in all major cities. For example, in an all-white Chicago, murder would decline 90 percent, rape by 81 percent, and robbery by 90 percent.

      So, yes, the police ‘stop-and-frisk’ and while it’s 4th Amendment wrong, it’s not racist in application. Its application is based on criminal activity which you stupidly seem to think is uniform across the various races when its vastly disproportional Black/Hispanic with very little White/Asian.

    2. RE:”in this case we know he actually stole the documents..’ You must have impeccable reliable sources to have already established that as an incontrovertible fact. Thus far, I have not seen same reported in the media nor, for that matter, does it appear than any of the contributors to this forum have either.

    3. You are a liar. We don’t know that Trump “stole” documents. The most likely explanation is that Trump had not made preparations to leave the White House and then had to do so at the last minute in a haphazard way.

      You may recall, he contested the election up to the date Congress certified it on January 6. Even after it was certified on J6 – when there was only two weeks to go before Biden would move in – Trump was still making public comments that he believed he had a legal path to successfully contesting the election.

      The Occam’s Razor explanation, then, is that he did not order his staff to pack because he believed he was going to win his legal challenges and remain in the White House. When it finally sunk in that his legal challenges were exhausted, stuff haphazardly got thrown into boxes and shipped to Florida.

      That’s the interpretation if you care about fairness. Or you can just make false assertions that he stole documents. Which says more about your character than his.

    4. “Conservatives have been supporting “preemptive” Stop & Frisk searches – in violation of the 4th Amendment’s clear wording – for over 50 years.“

      AZ, your facts are wrong. Stop And Frisk has been held legal on appeal because it is legal. It saved many lives in poor minority neighborhoods, but some will exchange lives for political advantage.

      Based on your second comment, you seem not to know the law or current events.

      The two sets of laws distinguish the Democrats of today and Republicans. Democrats are not abiding by the rule of law.

  4. The behavior described in this column is typical of today’s Dem party. All prior procedures, conventions and understandings go right out the window under these new Jacobins.

  5. What do you want Turkey? You want to give Trump back any classified materials if the could somehow relate to the January 6th Trump riot and killing of 5 humans..
    Give back the video of Trump yelling “Kill Mike Pence!”

    1. RE:”What do you want Turkey? I expect he’s wanting not to see a repetition of FISA warrant, Steele Dossier fiasco, and the likes of all of those who planned and participated in same. I expect that you’ll come back with a host of ‘whataboutisms’ as individuals such as yourself are wont to do in defense, but that is not the issue here. The issue is an already established corrupt FBI and DOJ, which a significant portion of the electorate have lost confidence in, willingly acting in the interests of a political party and its minions.

    2. It’s obvious what he wants — the RULE OF LAW AND INTEGRITY from powerful government institutions. That’s not too much ask. Especially as many of us have lost faith in these institutions thanks to their recent hyper-partisan conduct.

      What we’ve been seeing the past five years is the corruption of the FBI & DoJ by Democrats who have weaponized the law for politics. We have FISA warrants issued based on lies and tampered emails. We have the FBI lying about Flynn and coercing him into a guilty plea by threatening to destroy his son’s life. We have one part of the FBI going after Carter Page, because he worked with Trump, who was an FBI informant helping them against the Russians!!! We have the FBI/intelligence lies around Hunter Biden (and protecting him despite his admitting he committed at least felony).

      And there is plenty more. This is just the easy ‘I just got out of bed and am on my first cup of coffee’ stuff. There’s lots more surrounding the Steele Dossier and all that BS.

    3. Liberty2nd: why don’t you get your facts straight. There weren’t “5 humans” killed during the Jan. 6 riot. One human — Ashley Babbit — was killed by a cop who was never disciplined for killing an unarmed protester.

  6. I have been asking myself how this could possibly escalate since Hillary ran, and the dems have not disappointed, time and again. They are unrecognizable as an American party in 2022. The show trials were a big backfire that’s easy to laugh off; this and the militarization of the IRS are deeply shocking to me. The only thing more concerning is the utter ignorance and hatefulness of so much of the populace. This is not the country I grew up in, and not the one my wife immigrated to. If Rushdie’s assailant turns out to have slipped through the Southern border, I am holding this administration personally responsible.

  7. The leadership of the DOJ and FBI are officially out of control. They are (and recently have been) acting in similar manner of the SAVAK (which we trained), Stasi and KGB. We are witnessing revolutionary tactics in real time. Where is the ACLU?

    This goes way beyond bizarre. It is dangerous precedent and is unacceptable conduct. Shame on them.

    This is not a party line issue. I would say the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot.

    1. A “key requirement” for applicants on last week’s IRS job posting is that they have to be “legally allowed to carry a firearm,” and “major duties” include “Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary” and “Be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments”

      Looks like they are militarizing the IRS to get around the Posse Comitatus Act.

      1. “Looks like they are militarizing the IRS to get around the Posse Comitatus Act.”

        The feds have been weaponizing all of the bureaucracy. The Dept of Education. Health and Human Services. SBA

        The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a relatively new police force. In 1996, the VA had zero employees with arrest and firearm authority. Today, the VA has 3,700 officers, armed with millions of dollars’ worth of guns and ammunition including AR-15’s, Sig Sauer handguns, and semi-automatic pistols.

        So that Posse Comitatus Act. is a relic in history. DoJ or the Judicial branch well never act.


    2. Unfortunately “shaming” on them doesn’t work. Because they are all sociopaths. Sociopaths don’t have a “shame” button to push.

  8. What shocks me is the thoughtless applause from the lefties.

    Having witnessed the depredations of the FBI under Hoover and howled piteously about those abuses, the left now applauds further abuses.

    Because it is Trump.

    Lefties don’t realize that TDS is not a moral compass.

    1. Because he retained documents containing the nation’s most guarded secrets. Those documents were stored in a building that lacked the required security measures.

      1. RE:”Those documents were stored in a building that lacked the required security measures…” Where are you getting your information from? You really must get up to speed in the chronology of events in this matter.

  9. :I am not going to assume that the search was unwarranted until I see that evidence.”

    You clearly have more faith in those people than do I. First a show trial, now this. It’s not a slippery slope any longer

    1. RE:”:I am not going to assume that the search was unwarranted until I see that evidence.”.. “Well writ reasonable and rational thought.”

  10. In descending on Mar-a-Lago, the department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation shifted the U.S. into the category of countries whose ruling parties use government power to investigate political rivals.

    And more concerning was the requirement (now deleted) by the IRS for special-agent applicants to be “willing to use deadly force”. Looks like they are militarizing the IRS to get around the Posse Comitatus Act.

  11. Like Clinton’s wife. The FBI is blameless because they had no intent in taking documents outside the scope of the warrant. shhhhh, big ooops,so not sorry. The FBI will return the the items left,after the Jan 6 committee takes what it wants.

  12. Truth be known. The Democratic F.B.I. made a huge mistake in believing that Donald Trump gave a Shit about anything in those Boxes.

    The FBI thinking Donald has something to Hide at Mar-a-Lago, and was protecting to use on his opposition,
    Was as stupid as going after Jeffery Epstein’s Little Black Book to hide Bill Clinton’s name in it.

    Nothing seized will ever see the light of day unless it can be spun into incriminating Evidence.

    The Vanity of the F.B.I. stands paramount.


    Little Bo-Peep
    Nursery rhyme

    Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep
    And doesn’t know where to find them
    Leave them alone, and they’ll come home
    Wagging their tails behind them

    Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep
    And dreamt she heard them bleating
    But when she awoke, she found it a joke
    For they were still a-fleeting

    Then up she took her little crook
    Determined for to find them
    She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed
    For they’d left their tails behind them

    It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
    Into a meadow hard by
    There she espied their tails side by side
    All hung on a tree to dry

    She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye
    And over the hillocks went rambling
    And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should
    To tack each again to its lambkin

    Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep
    And doesn’t know where to find them
    Leave them alone, and they’ll come home
    Wagging their tails behind them


  13. When he’s charged and convicted for seditious conspiracy, will you then stop throwing more tinder on that dumpster fire?

    1. RE:”When he’s charged and convicted for seditious conspiracy,..” What will be your position if that does not come to pass and his accusers stand accused in ther own right? Will you have any concerns about the ethics and morality of the DOJ and FBI going forward? Does what history teaches us about the evolution of totalitarian states worry you at all?

  14. We get it Professor. Trump is above the law and no matter what he has done you will find reasons why he cannot be investigated like anyone else. He took the documents. He was asked to return them. He didn’t. A subpoena was issued and he still didn’t return them A warrant was issued and appropriately executed as it would be if you or I were in the same position. This has gone gone on for well over a year. Trump is not above the law.

      1. “ Laws don’t apply to the most entity ever to exist?”

        What?! Huh??? That’s the stupidest attempt at making what I suspect is a question.

    1. “Trump is above the law and no matter what he has done you will find reasons why he cannot be investigated like anyone else.”
      Surly you jest. Facts are stubborn and they don’t agree with you. Trump has been under investigation and scrutiny from 2016 till today. 1 year before, 4 years while president, and 2 years after leaving office. The reason behind all of this is simple. His political enemies acknowledge that he has Massive support among the people, 40% or more, and they Fear the probability of him being re elected. Trump presidency has changed my way of thinking about politics. Every elected or appointed official that does not hold the interest of this nation and it’s Citizens above all others is unfit to hold their position. Americans 1st, above all non citizens legal or illegal above all nations friend or foe.

      1. Trump’s election as political outsider was absolutely phenomenal. And you have to realize it occurred for a reason — Americans have been very unhappy with the direction, politics, policies of past Clinton-Bush-Obama administrations. All of these political elites are struggling now to preserve their legacies and retain power but it’s not going to happen, I’m convinced they’re goose is cooked.

    2. Nothing in Turley’s post can objectively be interpreted by a rational person as Turley making the case that Trump is above the law.

      The post is about how it has been reported that the government confiscated documents subject to attorney client privilege and the DOJ has denied the request by Trump’s attorneys for a special master to sort through it. Turley believes the overly broad nature of the warrant makes the need for a special master is even more evident.

      That’s Turley’s post in a nutshell. Did you bother to read it?

      1. RE:”Did you bother to read it?..” Well writ. What troubles me is the patchwork quilt of opinions expressed in these pages and the kind of irrationality abroad such as that which you have responded to. Consider this as a reflection of the electorate as a whole. This is why the political elite can hold sway over a majority. They have absolutely no respect or regard for the intelligence of their constituencies who have given them every reason to be so convinced..

    3. Justice Holmes: Get your facts straight. He returned 15 boxes of documents in June, and was asked to put a lock on the rest. Then there was a change in director at NARA, and the FBI raids his home for the very same boxes they could have taken back in June. If you think this is just “the law at work,” you’re either very naive, very biased, or very stupid.

  15. Let’s just be clear. JT has bo comments about Trump stealing highly classified documents. JT has issues that the FBI took attorney client documents even though they did use a taint team. It is the weekend JT. Let’s see what happens next week.

    1. Yearight. Never mind the fact that Trump has a top secret clearance or that as chief exec he can declassify at will. Besides which… the warrant is so incredibly broad there’s no possibility that any crime has been committed whatsoever. What this is, is illegal search and seizure; not to mention, abuse of power, just another attempt to intimidate. Call it a “test” because if Trump truly is worthy of the top spot he will not cave.

      1. If the FBI found just one classified document, then a crime was committed. And unless he went thought the proper process to declassify the documents before he left office, then they are still classified.

  16. This has deeply divided our country. Spoke with some MSNBC (even rabid) fanatics yesterday who didn’t remember or who had never learned about Lois Lerner’s antics, didn’t know about Hillary’s server, Berger’s ingenious way to take a document, they didn’t know even who Clinesmith was. Worst of all they had no idea what the Fourth Amendment IS!! Even Fox News and the AP seemed to forget (?) how Rice’s unmasking docs had been moved to the Obama library. These media outlets abuse their own loyal viewers who are weak of event recall. We are on the cusp of losing our country. Maybe just one bad judge away from it now.

    1. “Spoke with some MSNBC . . .”

      Well said.

      And that is why some contemporary “educators” want to keep the populace ignorant. Ignorant people are easily manipulated — and ruled.

    2. John Turkey, I always expect a voice of reason from you. Another home run. Keep it up, the country needs it at this critical time !! Have you ever seen the movie “A Man For All Seasons” I honestly fear you may need that kind of courage and resolve someday. God bless your efforts

    3. Agree with Sam, Peter. This was an excellent summation. Glad this was the first comment. Everybody should see it.

      1. Diogenes, don’t we have some of those same ignorant people on this blog? Do they learn anything from what they read? Apparently not. That tells us a bit about their makeup. Some believe that genes have something to do with risk tolerance which might impact ideology.

        1. Allen, yes, leftism is definitely a mental illness, but developing a diagnostic is challenging for two reasons. First, many psychologists suffer from TDS themselves, which can bias the cognitive results. Second, there isn’t enough data for a neurological study because you couldn’t find ATS’s brain with a search warrant.

        2. On a more serious note, here’s John Haidt’s view of it. Very interesting study, but probably not a crowd pleaser at Martha’s Vineyard:

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