By Zachary Stieber
New details about the documents seized from former President’s Donald Trump were made public on Oct. 3.
Among them: the two initial instances of investigators viewing potentially sensitive material.
The Department of Justice used what’s called a Privilege Review Team to look over all the materials in Mar-a-Lago in August and separate any materials that may be protected, including by attorney-client privilege. The government previously disclosed that on two occasions, workers not on the review team came upon materials that had not been separated.
Benjamin Hawk, an attorney who helps lead the team, has said that the first instance was when investigators saw the top of a letterhead contained the name of a firm, and that the second instance involved a document “that could potentially include privileged information.”
In a newly unsealed document that was originally filed on Aug. 30, the government said an investigator in the first instance found “a document on Morgan Lewis letterhead comingled with newspapers.”
Morgan Lewis is an international law firm.
“Consistent with the filter protocols set forth in the Affidavit, the Case Team stopped its review of that entire box and provided it to the Privilege Review Team agents to conduct a review to identify and segregate potentially privileged materials,” U.S. lawyers said.
In the affidavit for a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, an FBI agent said that if personnel assigned to the investigation identified any potentially privileged information, they would “cease the review” of the materials and hand it over to the Privilege Review Team.
The second instance involved an attorney for the team of investigators finding a 39-page set of materials “that appear to reflect the former President’s calls,” the government said. Most of the pages in the set were titled “The President’s Calls” and include the Presidential Seal. The documents contain handwritten names, numbers, and notes.
The attorney noticed the notes, halted the review, and notified the review team, according to the filing.
The government asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee overseeing the Trump records case, to unseal the filing after Hawk described aspects of it during a court hearing. The “broad strokes” of the filing were made public during the hearing, making it so there was no “compelling interest” in maintaining the sealed status, government lawyers argued.
Trump’s lawyers opposed unsealing the document, but had not identified any privileged information that should remain under seal or proposed any redactions, according to the government.
Cannon ordered the document unsealed on Monday, and it was made public soon after.
Two attached files with more information about the potentially privileged materials remain under seal “for purposes of protecting claims of attorney-client privilege,” Cannon said.
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