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Wall Street Journal: Legal Experts Say No Basis for FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search

'Those statutes are general in their text and application. But Mr. Trump’s documents are covered by a specific statute, the Presidential Records Act of 1978...'

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) In a recent op-ed column published by the Wall Street Journal, two former White House counsels and constitutional law experts said the FBI’s recent raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home had absolutely no legal basis.

Attorneys David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who served at the White House and Justice Department during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said that under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, Trump did no wrong.

Further, they argued that statutes cited by the FBI in its warrant, such as the Espionage Act, did not override the PRA, thus invalidating the grounds on which the FBI conducted its search.

The search warrant for the Mar-a-Lago raid indicated that the FBI is pursuing a case for removal or destruction of records; obstruction of an investigation; and violating a provision of the Espionage Act related to gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.

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“The warrant authorized the FBI to seize ‘all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§793, 2071, or 1519,'” Rivkin and Casey wrote.

“Those statutes are general in their text and application,” they continued. “But Mr. Trump’s documents are covered by a specific statute, the Presidential Records Act of 1978.”

The authors said Supreme Court precedent backs their understanding of the law, concluding that “the former president’s rights under the PRA trump any application of the laws the FBI warrant cites.”

Trump’s attorneys agreed with the assessment offered, and suggested that the Department of Justice was simply seeking pretext to invade Trump’s home in search of politically useful documents.

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According to his attorneys, there is “no criminal enforcement mechanism or penalty in the PRA,” suggesting that Attorney General Merrick Garland and his cronies have sought to “manufacture a basis to seek a search warrant.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has said that he will not allow the DOJ search warrant to remain wholly sealed, and has ordered that the FBI offer its recommendation for redactions by Thursday.

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