Former President Donald Trump Seeks to Withhold Papers, Two Folders Seized in Mar-a-Lago Raid

Former President Donald Trump is claiming presidential privilege over documents and two folders marked as containing signing sheets and correspondence with the National Archives. The FBI seized the items when his Florida Mar-a-Lago home was raided by the FBI, according to recent court filings and the special master review of the seized documents. 

The former president’s assertions of privilege over the folders represent an effort by Trump’s legal team to keep some of the seized documents confidential. In the court filings, the former president asserted privilege over a manilla folder marked “NARA letters one top sheet + 3 signing sheets” and one red folder marked “NARA letters and other copies.”

The former president also asserted presidential privilege over “The President’s Calls,” 35 pages of documents with the presidential seal on the corner that include notes about messages, handwritten names, and numbers, four blank pages of miscellaneous notes, according to court filings.

Trump is also seeking to retain emails about election fraud lawsuits in Fulton County, Georgia, a 2017 letter about former special counsel Robert Mueller, and clemency deliberations of Ted Suhl, an “MB,” and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Which specific documents Trump is trying to exercise presidential privilege over was made clear after a recent ruling of the special master. It was unclear if he sought to assert attorney-client or executive privilege over the two folders. 

U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie was appointed special master and mandated to screen any seized materials for potential privilege issues. 

‘Docketing error’ led to reveal of nature of documents

In typical situations, the exact nature of any documents claimed as protected would remain private. However, a court docketing error revealed the seized documents that the “filter team” for the justice department identified as possibly privileged.

The special master directed the “filter team” to transfer the documents not claimed by Trump to be privileged to the “case team” conducting the criminal investigation before October 10, according to the ruling.

The special master wrote that once the documents are transferred, the department and Trump’s lawyers should confer together and try to resolve any remaining disputes about executive privilege over the remaining records by October 20. All remaining issues will then be submitted to him to decide. 

Also included in the approximately 300 pages of documents marked to be returned are a 2016 letter from Trump’s physician; a confidential settlement agreement between Trump Golf and the PGA; the email accepting the president’s resignation from the Screen Actors Guild; invoices for legal fees; and a signed letter to the Biden campaign from a Trump legal advisor.