Trump Lawyers Oppose Justice Department Request Over Classified Documents

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., on September 3, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File photo

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WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Monday opposed a request by the U.S. Justice Department to further examine the contents of classified documents seized by the FBI from his Florida estate last month in an ongoing criminal investigation.

In a court filing, his attorneys also asked the US district judge to arbitrate, called a special master.

In another development, the Justice Department charged a Texas woman whom prosecutors accused of making threatening phone calls against Cannon, including saying the judge was “marked for murder.” The incident marks the latest example of reported threats against various federal authorities in recent months. read more

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Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for withholding government records, some of which were marked highly classified, even “top secret,” at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach after he left office in January. of 2021. The department is also examining the possible blockage of the probe.

The special master, who has not yet been named, could exclude the department from the use of certain documents. FBI agents recovered the records during a court-approved search on August 8. read more

Cannon previously blocked the department from immediately using seized records in the investigation, a move that will slow prosecutors’ work and make it harder for them to determine if additional classified materials might be missing. read more

Trump’s lawyers in Monday’s filing said he disputes the department’s assertion that the 100 or so documents in question are in fact classified, reminding Cannon that a president generally has broad powers to declassify records. They stopped short of suggesting that Trump had declassified the documents, a claim he has made on social media but not in court documents.

“Disagreement remains over the classification status of the documents,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “The government’s position therefore assumes a fact not yet established.”

If the judge rules that the Justice Department can no longer rely on the classified materials for its criminal investigation or insists on letting the special master review them, prosecutors have vowed to appeal to a higher court.

“In what is essentially a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the administration improperly seeks to criminalize the 45th president’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

“Therefore, the government must not be allowed to skip the process and proceed directly to a predetermined conclusion,” they added.

The document investigation is one of several federal and state investigations Trump has faced since his time in office and in private dealings. He has suggested that he could run for president again in 2024.

After the search, Trump’s attorneys sought the appointment of a special master to review the seized records for materials that might be covered by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, a legal doctrine that can protect some from disclosure. presidential records.

In ruling in favor of Trump’s request last week, Cannon rejected Justice Department arguments that the records belong to the government and that because Trump is no longer president, he cannot claim executive privilege. Cannon was appointed to the position by Trump in 2020. read more

If the special master decides that some of the material is covered by Trump’s privilege claims, it could hamper the government’s investigation.

The Justice Department on Friday nominated retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith to serve as special master, while Trump’s team nominated federal judge Raymond Dearie and Paul Huck, a former Florida assistant attorney general. The two sides are expected to give the judge later Monday their views on their proposed candidates.

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Information from Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; Edited by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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