The FBI’s over-collection of documents at Mar-a-Lago has placed the warrant under scrutiny

2JNAFEF New York, USA. 10th Aug, 2022. Former President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump is staying at Trump Tower in New York, on Wednesday (10). Trump is staying at Trump Tower overnight following a dinner in Bedminster, New Jersey, USA, on Tuesday (9). His residence at Mar-a-Lago was raided by the FBI in the state of Florida. He is seen leaving the Tower in the morning of Wednesday (10) (Credit Image: © Niyi Fote/TheNEWS2 via ZUMA Press Wire)

Photo: Alamy

FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago last week and seized materials in accordance with a warrant signed by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart. While the affidavits relating to the warrant remain under seal, the warrant itself has come under scrutiny.

As specified in the warrant, FBI agents were authorized to seize various items, including but limited to “any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021.” The broad nature of such language is potentially problematic.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states explicitly:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The permissible scope of the warrant is broad and could run afoul of the “particularity” requirement of the Fourth Amendment. As reported by Just the News, among the documents seized during the raid, FBI agents seized three passports, privileged documents, and a file on a presidential pardon. According to Kevin Brock, who served as FBI assistant director for intelligence under former Director Robert Mueller:

“Trump’s attorneys could have a runway to argue the scope of the search is overly broad. 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.”

One of the items seized was President Trump’s pardon of Roger Stone, who has been in the Jan. 6 Committee’s crosshairs for quite some time. The “Executive Grant of Clemency” was listed on the Receipt For Property, leading some to question whether the search had little to do with a dispute involving documents and was more of a fishing expedition for information relating to Jan. 6. According to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, this was a “fishing expedition.” Fitton further noted that the warrant “basically gave the FBI carte blanche to anything they wanted from the Trump home.” 

Brock agreed that the scope of the warrant was stunningly broad and indicated that it could have a chilling effect on other presidents. According to Brock:

“This apparently makes a novel legal assertion that any presidential record kept by a former president is against the law. You have to wonder what the other living former presidents think about that.  They have the right and, apparently, clear desire to remain silent.”

In light of the documents seized during the raid, President Trump’s lawyers are reportedly considering their legal options, including the possibility of asking a federal court to appoint a special master to review the seized documents to protect President Trump’s constitutional and/or other rights.   

Mr. Hakim is an attorney and columnist. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Thinker, and other online publications. He is also a regular guest on OANN’s Tipping Point, and has appeared on Newsmax, The Jenna Ellis Show, Steadfast and Loyal Podcast with Allen West, The Dave Weinbaum Show, and Real America’s Voice. 

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