Lawyers for Donald Trump have asked a federal judge to prevent the FBI from continuing to review documents recovered from his Florida estate until a neutral special master can be appointed to inspect the records.
The request was included in a court filing, the first by the former US president’s legal team in the two weeks since the search, that takes broad aim at the FBI investigation into the discovery of classified records at Mar-a-Lago.
The filing casts the 8 August search, in which the FBI said it recovered 11 sets of classified documents, as a “shockingly aggressive move” and describes Mr Trump and his representatives as having cooperated for months.
“Law enforcement is a shield that protects America. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes,” the lawyers wrote on Monday.
“Therefore, we seek judicial assistance in the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid at Mar-a-Lago.”
The filing specifically requests the appointment of a special master not connected to the case who would inspect the records recovered and set aside those that are covered by executive privilege – a principle that permits presidents to withhold certain communications from public disclosure.
“This matter has captured the attention of the American public. Merely ‘adequate’ safeguards are not acceptable when the matter at hand involves not only the constitutional rights of President Trump, but also the presumption of executive privilege,” the lawyers wrote.
Separately on Monday, a federal judge acknowledged that redactions to an FBI affidavit spelling out the basis for the search might be so extensive as to make the document “meaningless” if released to the public.
But US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said he continued to believe it should not remain sealed in its entirety because of the “intense” public interest in the investigation.
Justice Department officials want to keep the entire document sealed, saying disclosing any portion of it risks compromising an ongoing criminal investigation, revealing information about witnesses and divulging investigative techniques.