Former US President Donald Trump has called for the Justice Department to return the reams of documents FBI agents seized at his Mar-a-Lago resort last week, pointing to a report that said the information was covered by attorney-client or executive privilege.
“Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,” Mr Trump said on his Truth Social site, the New York Post reports.
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!”
Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News that the former president’s team was informed the boxes labelled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33, and a set of documents taken under authority of the search warrant, contained information covered by lawyer-client or executive privilege.
The documents were among a cache of materials taken from Mr Trump’s palatial home in Palm Beach, Florida last Monday, which included binders of photos, a handwritten note, a leatherbound box of documents, and an “executive grant of clemency” for longtime aide Roger Stone, according to a property list of items released on Friday by the FBI.
Agents also found 11 boxes of classified documents marked at varying levels of security, including top secret, confidential and “TS/SCI,” which refers to top secret/sensitive compartmented information, a special category intended to protect the country’s most delicate secrets.
Mr Trump has disputed the documents were classified, claiming that he had declassified them.
Representative for Mr Trump, John Solomon, read a statement on Fox News on Friday claiming the former president had a “standing order” during his time in the White House that “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”
But a member of Mr Trump’s legal team signed a written statement in June during a visit by Justice Department officials contending that all classified material at Mar-a-Lago had been returned to the government, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The warrant says the federal agents were investigating potential violations of federal law, including the Espionage Act.
The three statutes ban the gathering, transmitting or losing of defence information, the concealment, removal or mutilation of documents, or the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal probes.
And while presidents have wide latitude to declassify documents while in office, that power ends once they leave office.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission