Former president Donald Trump has requested that a judge freeze the investigation by the Justice Department into the records seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also requires “the government to provide a more detailed receipt for property” and “the government to return any item seized that was not within the scope of the search warrant”.
As reported by the media, quoting Trump’s lead attorney Jim Trusty and two sources close to the case, “the suit argues that the court should appoint a special master – usually a retired lawyer or judge – because the FBI potentially seized privileged materials in its search and the Department of Justice (DOJ) should not itself decide what it can use in its investigation”. The suit also claims: “Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes.”
Trump is under investigation for his potential mishandling of documents. As part of the presidential transition process, presidents are required to hand over all their documents and emails to a government agency called the National Archives. Thus, now the FBI is investigating whether Trump mishandled these records when he moved them from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the office. He dismissed these allegations and said the items had been declassified.
In his decision to allow the search, the federal magistrate judge said earlier this week that there was “probable cause to believe that evidence of several federal crimes would be found” in the estate. “Having carefully reviewed the Affidavit before signing the Warrant, I was — and am — satisfied that the facts sworn by the affiant are reliable,” wrote Judge Bruce Reinhart of the Southern District of Florida, reported The Guardian.
The search was widely seen as having substantially expanded the legal peril for Trump, which extends from investigations into his business dealings in New York to investigations into his efforts to overturn election results. After being defeated by Joe Biden in 2020, Trump refused to concede defeat, claiming widespread voter fraud, a lie that fueled his supporters to mount a deadly assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
As a result of Trump’s allegations, the U.S. would respond through the legal process, according to Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley. “The Aug. 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” he stated. “The department is aware of this evening’s motion. The United States will file its response in court.”
The lawsuit Trump filed was also meant to highlight his continued hints that he will shortly announce one more run for the White House. “Politics cannot be allowed to impact the administration of justice,” it said. “President Donald J Trump is the clear front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary and in the 2024 general election, should he decide to run. Beyond that, his endorsement in the 2022 midterm elections has been decisive for Republican candidates.”
It should be noted that Donald Trump has not officially announced that he will run for president in 2024, but he has constantly made hints.