It has been revealed that the documents that the FBI retrieved from former President Donald Trump's estate on August 8 reportedly included material that was protected under attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege.
Sources close to the investigation told Fox News in an exclusive that "the former president’s team was informed that boxes labeled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33, and a set of documents - all seen on the final page of the FBI’s property receipt - contained information covered by attorney-client privilege."
Attorney-client privilege protects communications as confidential between the two parties, while executive privilege ensures that information between the president and his advisors can be withheld from outside parties.
Trump's team asked the DOJ if they would support a "third party, independent special master to review those records" that could fall under either attorney-client or executive privilege, but the proposal was rejected.
On August 8, the FBI raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and took boxes of material from the former president's residence. Trump was in New York as more than 2 dozen federal agents entered his Florida property.
"These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents," Trump said of the incident. "Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before."
Later reports emerged that the raid happened on the Department of Justice's belief that Trump and his team had not returned all documents that are deemed government property under the Presidential Records Act, specifically materials related to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The records in question had been declassified through a "standing order" of Trumps that let him take classified materials from the White House to his private residence so he could work out of office.
In a statement given to Just the News, Trump's team said, "He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified." The statement affirms the legal tradition that the president is the highest authority for classifying and declassifying information.
"The power to classify and declassify documents rests solely with the President of the United States. The idea that some paper-pushing bureaucrat, with classification authority delegated BY THE PRESIDENT, needs to approve of declassification is absurd," Trump's statement said.
The power of the president to declassify at their discretion was codified by Democrat President Bill Clinton in 1995 with Executive Order 12958, later amended and reinforced by President George W. Bush in 1993. The powers were then further articulated and expanded under Democrat President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13526 in 2009.
Trump asked on Friday, "what happened to the 30 million pages of documents taken from the White House to Chicago by Barack Hussein Obama? He refused to give them back!" According to PBS: "The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act
Two former senior Trump confirmed there was a standing order allowing Trump to take the documents to Mar-a-Lago and one said, "I don't know anyone or anything that disputes that."
In the spring, officials from the Justice Department and the FBI traveled to Mar-a-Lago to speak with Trump’s representatives, to inspect where the documents were held, and to express concerns over their belief that Trump or those close to him still had documents that should be in government custody.
Trump said he and his team had been cooperating and that the raid was unnecessary because "they could have had it [the documents] anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago."
On August 11, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that he "personally approved" of the FBI raid, which was greenlit in state by Florida federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart who donated to the Obama campaign in 2008 and, as a lawyer years before, represented Jeffrey Epstein's accomplices in court.
The laws Trump is alleged to have possibly broken are 18 USC 793 which is "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information," 18 USC 2071 or "concealment, removal or mutilation" of material, and 18 USC 1519 or "destruction, alteration or falsification of records in Federal investigations," the last being a violation of the Espionage Act.
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