Trump attempts to use a Truth Social post to make a legal request for the DOJ to give Mar-a-Lago-raid documents back

  • Trump on Sunday demanded the return of some documents taken in the raid at Mar-a-Lago.
  • He made the request in a Truth Social post, appearing to mistakenly think it had legal force.
  • Trump was reacting to a Fox story claiming some of the documents may be privileged.

Former President Donald Trump over the weekend made a demand for documents taken by the FBI to be returned to him — via a Truth Social post, rather than his lawyers.

The former president made the demand on Sunday. It seemed worded as if Trump expected it to have legal force.

“Oh great!” Trump wrote. “It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken. By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!”

Truth Social — effectively a clone of Twitter with a MAGA sensibility — refers to individual posts as “truths,” and the retweet equivalent is to “retruth” a message.

The documents Trump asked to be returned are ones he claims are covered by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege from when he was in office. Neither Trump nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment about the claims.

The nature of the documents is unclear. Trump appeared to be responding to a Fox News story that identified five boxes and one further set of documents as having the potential to be protected. The items are the ones named here:

Mar-a-Lago search warrant receipt

A portion of a legal document listing items taken from Mar-a-Lago by FBI agents executing a search warrant on August 8.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Fox did not name its sources for the story, who described interactions between the Department of Justice and Trump’s legal team.

Posting on social media, as Trump did, is not generally considered a valid way to make a legal request.

Insider was not able to locate any public documents making a formal version of Trump’s request. The Fox story did, however, describe a timider way in which Trump’s camp sought the return of some files.

It said Trump’s lawyers had asked the Department of Justice whether it would support the court appointing an independent official to review the records in question. According to Fox, the department said no.

On top of his privilege claims, Trump has argued in other ways that his possession of the documents was not a problem and that the department ought to have left them with him.

On Friday, he said that any classified documents he took with him from the White House were automatically declassified by a standing order he had set up.

A statement from his office, read out on Fox News, said: “Everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different.”

The statement did not address the fact that Trump ceased to be president when he left office on January 20, 2021, at which point any presidential work became President Joe Biden’s.

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, called the claim “baloney.”

He said declassification was a lengthy and complicated process that Trump couldn’t carry out by default. Tom Dupree, a former Justice Department lawyer, confirmed that there was a process to be followed and told the BBC it was unclear whether that happened.

Trump’s supporters have made increasingly outlandish calls to action in reaction to the raid, including Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky calling for the repeal of the Espionage Act, one of three statutes Trump is suspected to have violated. 

Meanwhile, several far-right members of the GOP have also criticized the FBI, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia calling for the defunding of the bureau and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado calling for the raid to be investigated.