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Judge Gives Trump Till Friday to Clarify FBI Record Request

On Tuesday, a federal judge reacted to former president Trump’s complaint asking for a special master to review the documents the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate, by setting Friday as the deadline for Trump to clarify his request.

Judge Aileen Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued an order requiring Trump to explain the court’s jurisdiction and the specific relief he seeks.

She also demanded that Trump’s legal team explain how the lawsuit would affect a separate case to decide whether or not portions of the affidavit supporting the search warrant should be made public.

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Cannon, who was nominated for the job by Trump in 2020, filed the motion on Tuesday, along with two other brief directives. Separately, she issued one instructing two of his attorneys to reformat and resubmit their requests to appear pro hac vice. Such motions allow attorneys to represent clients in courts to which they have not been formally admitted.

Trump’s first major legal step since investigators executed a search warrant at the property on August 8 was filing a petition on Monday to temporarily prohibit the FBI from studying the records it collected from his Florida house until the agency chooses a special master to offer outside scrutiny.

At least 700 pages of classified materials were seized by the DOJ in its initial recovery of documents from Trump’s Florida home in January, according to a letter released by the National Archives on Tuesday. Earlier this month, law enforcement agencies around the country independently seized eleven additional classified document sets.

On multiple occasions, Trump has accused the FBI and the search of being politically motivated, and he has claimed that documents protected by attorney-client privilege and possibly executive privilege were among those uncovered in the search.

On Friday, he made hints about the impending lawsuit, in which he will allege that the FBI violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits excessive searches and seizures.

In a motion filed on Monday, his lawyers detailed many of his concerns and asked the court to appoint a special master, who typically makes sure that court orders are followed. In the context of carrying out a search warrant, the appointment is unusual.

The DOJ has started using a “filter team” to review the documents in order to prevent the prosecution from gaining access to sensitive information, which has led to this request.

Trump further requested that the court order the government to return any documents that were not included by the search warrant and to produce a more thorough property receipt detailing the items taken.

A federal court approved the warrant days before the search, allowing agents to search the “45 Office” as well as any storage rooms or other facilities at Mar-a-Lago that could be used by Trump and his employees to store boxes or documents.

The agents were authorized to confiscate any items located there that could be used to prove violations of the Espionage Act and two other laws thanks to the warrant.

One legislation forbids doing so “with the intent to delay, obstruct, or influence [an] investigation,” while another forbids doing so “with the intent to conceal, remove, or mutilate” government records.

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