National Security

‘Privileged’ Mar-a-Lago tranche include Trump legal docs, discussion on pardons

An inadvertently shared log of potentially privileged materials taken from former President Trump’s Florida home includes details of his calls as president, analyses of who should receive pardons and heaps of records tied to his many legal entanglements.

The logs, apparently unsealed in error, were first reported by Bloomberg News, which shared the filing that has since been removed from the court docket.

The attachments were designed to illuminate the work of the Justice Department’s “filter team” in an Aug. 30 memo the court unsealed Monday — an effort at the time to convince a Florida judge that no special master was needed to review the potentially privileged material.  

The exhibits cover 520 pages of records that the team determined were largely government records, as well as those it determined were personal property that should be returned to Trump, or were private matters covered by attorney-client privilege. The filter team is composed of attorneys not assigned to the case who review records before releasing them to investigators.

Among the tranche of records at Trump’s home were communications about securing clemency for Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic Illinois governor whose sentence was commuted by Trump after he was convicted for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by former President Obama.

He also had “internal pardon packages[s],” or clemency requests, for individuals listed only as RN, IR, JC and MB.

Those materials also included 35 pages of “The President’s Calls,” with the memo noting one from “Rudy,” which may have been from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, “that does not appear, on its face, to be related to legal advice.”

Other items included folders labeled with NARA, an abbreviation for the National Archives and Records Administration, as well as a draft immigration policy. 

The documents also included some printed emails, including a National Security Council email about the release of John Walker Lindh, an American who pleaded guilty to charges related to supporting the Taliban, and an email from the head baseball coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy to the White House.

“As such, virtually none of those materials appears to be privileged attorney-client communications or protected under the attorney work product doctrine,” the Justice Department wrote, determining that those records ought to be turned over to investigators. 

The 383 pages of documents the filter team determined should be returned to Trump include a number of records related to his taxes, as well an invoice for legal work and other documents related to Trump’s legal affairs.

Also among the documents are two medical records, including the publicly released letter from Trump’s doctor during the 2016 campaign, as well as an insurance plan explanation of benefits. Federal district court Judge Aileen Cannon in part determined a special master was necessary due to the medical records.

The legal documents include a filing related to his lawsuit with niece Mary Trump, and one related to retaining counsel in his dealings with E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her. The tranche also includes documents related to his election-related lawsuits in Georgia and numerous other invoices and agreements for retention of counsel.

One invoice included on the list was accompanied by two post-it notes reading “said you agreed to pay this bill? Work prior to his becoming WH counsel” and another reading “No.” The invoice is from Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner, where White House Counsel Pat Cipollone previously worked.

Other files include numerous nondisclosure agreements, as well as Trump’s resignation letter from the Screen Actors Guild, which sought to expel him after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. 

The 520 pages of records covered by the filing are just a fraction of the 200,000 pages recovered during the search of Mar-a-Lago.

The Justice Department secured a court win from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to divert 100 classified records from review, though its broader battle to challenge the special master is still being litigated.

Tags classified documents Donald Trump E. Jean Carroll FBI search of Mar-a-Lago Obama Rod Blagojevich Rudy Giuliani special master

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