Legal bills, pardons, insurance forms among documents seized from Mar-a-Lago

Documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago homes last month included analysis of possible pardons, bills and alimony agreements with attorneys, and details of calls with foreign presidents, according to a log of potentially privileged materials that were inadvertently released to the public court document on Wednesday.

The glimpse of the secular documents seized by the FBI came on the day a federal appeals court awarded Mr. Trump a disqualification by granting the Justice Department’s request to expedite its appeal against the appointment of a federal judge in Brooklyn as a special reviewer of the documents in the search on 8 August confiscated.

The list of materials seized in that search was attached to a recently unsealed report dated Aug. 30 by the Justice Department’s so-called “filter team,” which reviewed the materials. It was supposed to remain classified but somehow got entered into the public court record.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the bug, shared the filing, which is no longer publicly available online.

The Justice Department attorneys reviewing the documents divided the potentially privileged material into two categories. Collectively, the categories comprise 520 pages of records, some of which contained personal belongings or private communications.

The first tranche of approximately 137 pages was not deemed protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, and the filter team said the materials should be turned over to investigators.

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“As such, virtually none of these materials appear to be privileged communications between attorney and client or protected by the doctrine of attorneys’ work products,” the Justice Department wrote.

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Among the records found in this tranche were notices of clemency grants to Rod Blagojevich, former governor of the Democratic Republic of Illinois. Mr. Trump commuted his sentence for illegally attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

A second “internal clemency package” proposed clemency for individuals identified only as RN, IR, JC and MB.

Another tranche of records contained 35 pages of documents described as “calls from the President,” with a note that a call to “Rudy” was likely Mr. Trump’s advice from his attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, sought. The filter team said the conversation “at first glance does not appear to be related to legal advice”.

The items also included folders marked NARA for the National Archives and Records Administration and a draft version of an immigration policy document.

Several printed emails were included in the tranche, including an email from the National Security Council regarding the release of John Walker Lindh, an American who pleaded guilty to supporting the Taliban. Another email came from the US Air Force Academy’s chief baseball coach.

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The second batch of documents was recommended as “privileged” and thus returned to Mr. Trump. These materials included records of Mr Trump’s taxes, bills for legal work and copies of legal advances for attorneys hired by the former president.

Other documents in that stack of documents included a publicly released letter from Mr. Trump’s doctor during the 2016 campaign and explaining the benefits of an insurance plan.

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Among the legal documents were items related to his lawsuit against his niece, Mary Trump, for helping The New York Times obtain thousands of pages of his tax documents. Another item detailed the agreement with Mr. Trump’s attorneys to defend him in the defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who has accused Mr. Trump of sexually assaulting her.

The tranche also contains documents related to his Georgia election processes, including bills and agreements to hire an attorney.

A bill from the law firm where White House Counsel Pat Cipollone previously worked contained two sticky notes with a reading: “You agreed to pay this bill? Work before he becomes WH consultant”, and another reading “No”.

Another file contained Mr. Trump’s letter of resignation from the Screen Actors Guild, which was trying to remove him after the January 6, 2021 riots in the US Capitol.

The 520 pages of records listed in the filing are a tiny percentage of the 200,000 pages the FBI seized during the Aug. 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump asked the Supreme Court to allow a special counsel to review 100 documents bearing classified markings that the FBI removed from his home and office at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

An appeals court ruled last month that those documents would not need to be reviewed by the special master and could be used by the Justice Department as part of its criminal investigation into whether Mr Trump mishandled classified documents.