“There is no guarantee that the ‘limited set’ of potentially privileged materials identified by the Lien Review Team constitute all of the privileged materials among the seized materials,” wrote Trump attorneys Lindsey Halligan, James Trusty and Evan Corcoran as they pushed U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a stranger to conduct an examination.
“Left unchecked, the DOJ will challenge, disclose, and publish selective aspects of their investigation without any recourse to Movant, but to somehow trust in the restraint of currently unchecked investigators,” the authors wrote. Trump lawyers.
The newest member of Trump’s legal team, former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise, did not sign the filing.
Trump’s case landed after what appeared to be a key admission. In a post on social media a few hours earlier, the former president said he was aware of the documents marked “top secret” which were, in his words, hidden in “boxes” in his personal office. at Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s attorney had claimed in June that no such documents remained on the property.
“They took them out of the boxes and spread them out on the carpet,” Trump said, after criticizing FBI agents for posting the documents for a photo the Justice Department publicly revealed Tuesday night.
Trump’s filing on Wednesday also made no mention of any declassification. The Justice Department claimed on Tuesday that neither Trump nor his lawyers had ever mentioned ‘declassification’ during months of talks before the August 8 FBI raid – a claim Trump’s team has not disputed. Wednesday.
Instead, lawyers for the former president focused much of their argument on whether the government failed to give sufficient consideration to concessions from the Presidential Records Act, the Nixon-era law that governs the preservation of the White House archives by the National Archives.
Trump’s rebuttal to the DOJ comes as the department appears to be considering a major obstruction of justice case against the former president and his team, underscored by evidence the department released Tuesday in response to Trump’s lawsuit. The department argued that privileged documents seized at Mar-a-Lago would inherently be the property of the government, not Trump, especially when they consist of extremely sensitive national security records.
Cannon is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday afternoon in West Palm Beach on whether to grant a request from Trump’s attorneys made last week to appoint a special master to sift through and return assets that may have been seized from inappropriate way.
Cannon, who is a Trump appointee, said in an order last week that she was inclined to grant the special principal request. But it’s unclear what that job would entail at this point since prosecutors, who oppose any role for a special handler, said in a court filing on Monday that they’ve already reviewed everything the FBI recovered during of the Mar-a-Lago search, apart from documenting a Justice Department “screening team” set aside as containing information that could be subject to solicitor-client privilege.
It’s possible that Cannon will order a special handler to essentially verify the work of the FBI team, though it’s difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that the investigative team doesn’t see anything she’s already been watching for weeks. Trump’s team is pushing not just for a pair of outside eyes, but for a broader review that would also examine potential claims of executive privilege or other privileges.
For weeks after the FBI’s search of his estate, Trump insisted he had worked cooperatively with investigators. But the Justice Department’s most recent filing painted a damning picture of Trump and his team repeatedly resisting government efforts to recover highly classified documents.
In January, Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives, following months of work by the agency to recover documents it learned were stored at Mar-a-Lago. When NARA discovered the boxes contained highly classified documents, they referred the case to the Department of Justice. But for months, FBI investigators said they were unable to access the documents, and Trump’s lawyers repeatedly resisted efforts to allow criminal investigators to probe the documents.
Finally, the Archives received clearance from the Biden White House to reverse Trump’s efforts and deliver the 15 boxes to the Justice Department, which issued a May 11 subpoena for all remaining documents with classified marks kept at Mar-a-Lago. As the subpoena deadline approached in early June, Trump’s attorneys invited DOJ investigators to the estate and delivered a “Redweld envelope” containing about 50 documents marked classified, but, according to the DOJ, they refused to allowing investigators to comb through the boxes to ensure that everything had been provided.
The June 3 visit ended with a Trump lawyer signing a sworn letter certifying that all remaining documents with classification marks had been turned over in accordance with the subpoena. But the FBI – acting on evidence that additional classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago – later discovered more than 100 marked documents in Trump’s storage room and personal office, including three in a drawer of desk.