Former President Donald Trump is now focusing on fighting against the arguably unlawful ransacking of his home by federal agents on August 8. FBI agents seized troves of documents that were possibly already declassified. The former president’s passports were also taken but then returned. Rumors that the raid was over alleged classified materials that included nuclear secrets drew skepticism from those whose cognitive function hasn’t been irreparably harmed by the 2016 election.
The sacking of a former president’s home carried the stench of a political hit job. The unveiling of the search warrant and the partial disclosure of the affidavit did little to quell those suspicions. There is nothing in the affidavit that cites criminal intent. The document does not meet the mens rea benchmarks, which establishes probable cause for this federal ransacking of Mar-a-Lago. It seems the core of this raid was to warn the former president not to run again in 2024 and that they want some documents back, papers which Trump quite possibly was allowed to possess.
Spencer wrote that Trump wanted a “special master” to review the seized records, which isn’t an abnormal motion. Trump also wants to prevent federal agents from reviewing the documents until a special master is appointed. A federal judge granted a premilitary motion to do just that on Saturday (via Fox News):
A federal judge on Saturday announced her "preliminary intent to appoint a special master" to review records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid of his Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month, at the request of former President Trump and his legal team, citing the "exceptional circumstances."
Trump and his legal team filed a motion Monday evening seeking an independent review of the records seized by the FBI during its raid of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, saying the decision to search his private residence just months before the 2022 midterm elections "involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican Party, President Trump."
U.S. District Judge from the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen M. Cannon on Saturday afternoon said that the decision was made upon the review of Trump’s submissions and "the exceptional circumstances presented."
A hearing is set for Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m. in West Palm Beach, Fla. Cannon also ordered the Justice Department to file a response by Aug. 30 and provide, "under seal," a "more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant executed on August 8, 2022."
If the special master chapter of this saga is anything like the unsealing of the Trump raid affidavit, expect more criticism hurled at the Justice Department and the FBI, which have gone rogue to protect the Democratic Party. The Presidential Records Act is not a criminal statute. The National Archives and the Trump legal team did have a prolonged game of email tag over the missing documents. Still, they were cooperating, as evidenced by the 15 boxes returned in January. We’re still waiting for a smoking gun that Trump’s documents in question created a national security issue, violated the Espionage Act, and constituted obstruction of justice. We don’t have one because there isn’t one.