The shocking raid of former President Donald Trump’s home last month by armed FBI agents continues to provide the sort of political-legal drama that our nation has been missing ever since House of Cards concluded.
At the heart of the matter this week is just what the FBI removed from Mar-a-Lago and whether or not they had any right to any or all of it.
We’ve already learned that Donald Trump passports were seized in the raid, and then returned, on account of them having been taken erroneously. But now, somehow, they’ve become the center of attention…despite the fact that they were never supposed to have gotten any attention at all.
In a footnote in Tuesday’s court filing pushing back against Trump’s demand for a special master to sort through the evidence that was seized at his Mar-a-Lago property, Justice Department officials countered his contention that it was an overreach to take three passports that were later returned.
Consistent with the terms of the search warrant, the Justice Department said in the filing that “the government seized the contents of a desk drawer that contained classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents.”
Here is where it gets sticky:
“The other documents included two official passports, one of which was expired, and one personal passport, which was expired,” it said. “The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information.”
And then comes the mainstream media to play cheerleader to the idea:
NBC News legal analyst Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, said the reason the passports are “relevant evidence” is clear — they point directly to Trump.
“In most searches you look for identity documents to tie a suspect to the evidence you’re looking for — photographs, IDs, utility bills. If you find the contraband in the same room as the identity documents, there’s a fair inference that person had dominion and control over the documents,” said McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School.
This new wrinkle could expose the DOJ as grasping at straws, of course, given that they’ve already acquiesced to having wrongfully obtained the passports.