Trump team likely sought to conceal classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, DOJ tells judge


“The fact that the FBI, within hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification marks as the ‘diligent search’ that the former president’s attorney and other representatives had weeks to perform is a reminder seriously question the statements made in the June 3 certification and cast doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” he added.

The highly anticipated court filing includes a startling photo of some of the apparently classified files recovered from the so-called “Office 45” in Mar-a-Lago, spread out on a carpet.

Many brightly colored cover pages for classified information are visible and are marked with “Top Secret”, “Secret”, and “Sensitive Compartmented Information”. At least three of the documents bearing classification marks are on White House letterhead. A box of framed items, including a 2019 Time magazine cover depicting the then-Democrat presidential field vying to defeat Trump, sits nearby.

The DOJ said the “mixing” of Trump’s personal effects with classified documents is “relevant evidence of the violations of law under investigation.” Three classified documents were found in a “desk drawer”, prosecutors said, without providing further details. Trump’s claims that the items should be returned to him have no basis, they added.

“All presidential records seized under the search warrant belong to the United States, not the former president,” Bratt explained.

The submission to a federal judge in Florida opposes Trump’s request for an independent third party to review records seized by the FBI during their Aug. 8 raid on the former president’s compound in Florida. The DOJ has urged U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon to oppose Trump’s request for a so-called ‘special handler’, saying her late request was merely an attempt to disrupt the investigation .

In particular, Bratt urged Cannon to reject Trump’s claim that any of the documents seized were subject to a claim of executive privilege by him — and therefore unrecoverable by the current administration.

“The former president cites no instance — and the government knows of none — in which executive privilege was successfully invoked to prohibit document sharing within the executive branch,” Bratt wrote.

Even if there were circumstances in which a former president could claim privilege, Bratt argues, this scenario would not come close. Intelligence officials are currently reviewing the recovered files to assess national security risks, and any disruption to that could jeopardize the review, the DOJ says.

The Justice Department also noted that during a June 3 meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Trump aides treated the documents as if they remained classified, never claiming that Trump had indeed declassified them and in producing some in “a single Redweld envelope, double-band-wrapped.

A lawyer for Trump later asserted in a certification letter to the government, “A diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida” and that “all corresponding documentation accompanies this certification.” At the meeting, Trump’s attorneys insisted that no subpoenas were being held in other parts of the property, but “explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking outside the property.” ‘inside the boxes that remained in the storage room’.

The filing is the Justice Department’s first response to Trump’s legal bid to halt the DOJ’s ongoing investigation into his retention of highly classified documents in an unsecured storeroom and elsewhere at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is due to respond to the government’s filing by Wednesday evening, and Cannon convened a hearing on the matter Thursday afternoon in West Palm Beach. Requests for comment from Trump’s representatives after Tuesday’s filing were not returned.

The Justice Department used the filing to forcefully rebut some of Trump’s claims about his interactions with the Justice Department and to unload more details about investigators’ private interactions with Trump and his attorneys. Among other details, the filing reveals that prosecutors took the case seriously enough to ask the Washington, D.C.-based federal judge overseeing the investigation to allow release of certain grand jury information they had. collected during the survey.

The threat of possible criminal charges against Trump has intensified over the past year, primarily following investigations related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The Justice Department has interviewed witnesses related to this effort, including figures from the Trump administration. And an Atlanta-area grand jury led by District Attorney Fani Willis conducted a parallel investigation that also ensnared key Trump allies.

But the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified and national defense material exploded into broad daylight this month after the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, removing dozens of boxes that they have identified as containing top secret and otherwise sensitive information.

The Department of Justice recently described the investigation as only in its “early stages”, but it informed Cannon that a “screening team” had completed its search for potential confidential information about an attorney. -customer among the objects entered, identifying a “limited set”.

In the new filing, prosecutors say Trump’s lawyers moved too slowly and that appointing a special master at this point would be pointless because investigators have already gone through everything seized that didn’t. been set aside by the screening team. This would only hamper the ongoing criminal investigation and disrupt the intelligence community’s review of potential national security risks.

“The investigative team has already reviewed all seized materials that have not been separated by the screening team. Restricting further review by the government – ​​including the intelligence community – does not would therefore do little to protect the plaintiff’s purported interests or rights,” Bratt wrote.

“As a rule, parties requesting the appointment of a special master following the execution of a search warrant make such requests immediately,” Bratt added.

While arguing against a special master, the dossier offers some suggestions for Cannon if she decides to do it anyway. Prosecutors say the special master should only review seized records for potential insider information between attorney and client and not for other issues. Additionally, the Justice Department says that if a special master “is to be authorized to review classified material,” that person should already have a high-level security clearance to avoid delays.

Prosecutors have also asked for a tight schedule, arguing that if a special master is appointed, all work to sort out those liens will be completed by September 30.

Trump hired a new attorney this week, former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise, to represent him in the criminal case that led to the Mar-a-Lago search. Other attorneys who have represented him in the case include DC-based attorneys Evan Corcoran and James Trusty, as well as Florida-based attorney Lindsey Halligan.


Politico

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