When a phalanx of SWATted-out FBI agents descended upon Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home, they also walked off with boxes of what the DOJ claimed were “classified” documents, photographs, the former president’s passports, and privileged legal documents that, the last time we checked, the Trump-Russia collusion hoaxers or any other government actor shouldn’t put their prying fingers on.
Now, according to Just the News, we’ve learned that the FBI will give back President Trump’s passports and documents containing privileged information between the former president and his attorneys. No doubt the Justice Department will be reading and copying the documents as they prepare to return them. It may be why the DOJ estimates it will take two weeks to get Trump back his property.
The department was making plans Monday evening to return the passports and has also alerted defense lawyers the FBI may have obtained materials covered by various privileges that will be returned in the next two weeks, two sources told Just the News.
DOJ has designated a process for separating materials that could be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege, the sources said.
“Occasionally a warrant collection can grab things outside the scope authorized by the court and the department is now following a procedure we would for any person affected this way,” one official said Monday night.
The sources spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the communications between the two sides are confidential.
This announcement came after The Daily Beast’s Mitchell Epner, a former federal prosecutor who now works at a New York City law firm, wrote, “Former President Donald Trump says the Department of Justice must ‘immediately’ return the documents seized from his office and residence at Mar-A-Lago because of alleged violations of ‘attorney-client’ material and ‘executive’ privileged material.”
“This is, to put it plainly, completely bogus,” Epner adds.
Except it’s not. It’s legit.
Considering that the warrant was overly broad, which used to be unconstitutional, the fact that FBI agents took Trump’s passports and privileged legal documents to which they weren’t entitled may not be so surprising. The fact that the DOJ is fighting to hide the reasons behind the raid does nothing to inspire the already rickety confidence in the department.
And then there’s the issue of the super-duper-secret documents the DOJ obviously told the judge they were looking for. You can’t get a warrant for not turning over presidential records, so lawyers must have insisted that Trump had committed some sort of actual crime. Voilà! The DOJ told the Washington Post the almost certainly bogus story that Trump was holding “classified documents relating to nuclear weapons,” which Trump denies.
But assume that we believe the DOJ and FBI and this is true. Let’s game this out with the help of former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, who intimated on his podcast Friday that this scenario is almost laughable.
First off, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) alleged that some of the documents Trump returned to NARA were stamped classified and, in their Trump-Derangement-tinged concern, brought in the big boys and girls at the FBI and DOJ.
“Let’s say we’re talking about what the Washington Post was talking about,” said McCarthy. “Special Access information which only a handful of people in the government are read-into and allowed to get access to, and it’s totally need-to-know, and it’s a teeny-tiny group of people, OK? And that’s what they expected to find.”
Since they expected to find such dramatically super-secret information at President Trump’s home, they must have sent super-secret agents with super-secret clearances to figure out which information this was and retrieve it. Since there were only so few people with the clearance for this kind of information, does it make sense that more than 30 FBI agents were also cleared for that information? McCarthy isn’t buying it for a second.
There were [more than] 30 FBI agents there. Do you think they read 30 FBI agents into a Special Access program so they could execute a search warrant thinking that that information was really going to be there? I don’t think so. … I’ve seen how classified information gets handled when it’s handled correctly and how persnickety they are about how somebody who doesn’t have the clearance or doesn’t have the need-to-know is not in a position where that person is able to see the thing he doesn’t have the right to see – even if he has a security clearance. And I’m sure all these FBI agents who got sent there had security clearances of some level and I’m sure there were some people who were running things that had very high-security clearances, but if you’re going to turn 20 or 30 [or 40] FBI agents loose and tell them, ‘OK, fellas, go find what’s in the warrant, you’re opening the possibility of somebody who doesn’t have the appropriate security clearance to see this top secret, super secret, Special Access information is going to get precisely that they’ll be exposed to something they’re not allowed to see. I don’t believe it. So, maybe I’ll be wrong too but I don’t believe it.”
The DOJ is fighting not to divulge the contents of the affidavit supporting the warrant. Trump is calling on the department to release the full, unredacted version of the affidavit. The feds will wait until they indict the former president while Americans wait in alarm, fear, and disgust and get fitted for their Carmen Miranda banana republic hats.
But don’t you worry, America. Merrick Garland and the rest of the Biden Administration will keep looking for a Trump crime. Just give them time. After all, it’s only been a few years.