Aug 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DOJ says only a "limited" number of Trump documents may be privileged

Donald Trump prepares to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC

Donald Trump prepares to speak at CPAC on Aug. 6 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Only a "limited set" of the documents seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home may be protected by attorney-client privilege, the Department of Justice said in a court filing Monday.

Driving the news: The filing comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Trump last week seeking the appointment of a special master to review the materials seized and prevent the FBI from examining the seized documents until the special master is in place.

  • A special master, usually a third party like a retired judge, would review the material and determine whether it is protected by attorney-client privilege or other legal doctrines.
  • On Saturday federal judge in Florida signaled her willingness to grant the request for a special master and ordered the DOJ to file a public response to Trump's request as well as file, under seal, a more detailed list of the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago and the status of the review of the materials by Tuesday.

State of play: The court filing on Monday acknowledged the judge's order and noted that a more detailed public response, as well as a sealed supplemental filing on the requested list of materials and their status, is forthcoming.

  • The DOJ revealed in the court filing that its own privilege review team “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information” and “completed its review of those materials.”
  • It is now following procedures set out in the search affidavit for the handling of privileged material, it added.
  • The DOJ is also working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to conduct a "classification review" of the materials seized in the search, while the ODNI also conducts its own assessment of the natural security risks of the top secret documents obtained.
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