In the wake of the highly controversial FBI raid on President Donald Trump’s home in Florida last week, the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has since offered to return several seized items that appear to have been unrelated to the purposes of the original search warrant.
As reported by Just The News, some of the items taken in the federal raid of Mar-a-Lago included the document of President Trump’s pardon of former campaign aide Roger Stone, as well as three of the 45th president’s passports. The latter move in particular sparked even greater backlash, with many presuming that the confiscation of passports is meant to serve as a prelude to a federal indictment of President Trump.
But on Monday, the DOJ informed President Trump’s legal team that the agency is obligated to return the passports, and may soon return any other materials that are covered by either executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.
“Occasionally a warrant collection can grab things outside the scope authorized by the court, and the department is now following a procedure we would for any person affected this way,” said one DOJ official.
“Trump’s attorneys could have a runway to argue the scope of the search is overly broad,” said Kevin Brock, who served as FBI assistant director for intelligence under former Director Robert Mueller. “Search warrants normally require a level of specificity that seems to be missing in this warrant. Specificity is important in order to protect 4th Amendment rights from exuberant government overreach designed to find whatever they can.”
“The president’s authority to grant pardon and clemency is clear but what isn’t clear is why the retention of a clemency order would be considered illegal,” Brock added. “The fact that it is highlighted on the receipt list, and that it has to do with Stone, will likely provide ammunition to Republicans who are asserting that the search was less about a document dispute and more about a hunt for derogatory Jan. 6 information.”
Echoing Brock’s concerns that the original search warrant authorized a raid that was far too broad, President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton said that the DOJ was “engaged in a fishing expedition, and the warrant itself wasn’t about classified information, though it mentioned it.”
“It talked about all sorts of other documents,” Fitton continued. “It basically gave the FBI carte blanche to anything they wanted from the Trump home. And the fact that a judge signed off on it is very troubling.”
Critics of the unprecedented raid have noted that the narrative justifying the move has changed constantly since the search itself first took place last Monday. Initially, the Biden Administration claimed that the search was in response to a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act as a result of President Trump allegedly keeping some documents for himself. Now the administration has floated the possibility that his possession of such documents could be a violation of the World War I-era Espionage Act.