Former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is seen on February 8, 2021 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Marco Bello | Reuters
The Justice Department revealed late Tuesday that the FBI had seized more than 100 classified documents from the former president Donald TrumpThe Florida House earlier this month asked a special master to review those and other records after the department persuaded a judge to reject Trump’s request.
The Justice Department argued in court that Trump lacked the legal authority to appoint a special master. The agency warned that appointing the watchdog would harm national security.
The department said there was evidence that government records had been hidden and removed from a storage room at Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach and that “attempts may have been made to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
Trump had He sued to obstruct the judiciary From further questioning any items taken at trial, until a court-appointed special master analyzes them. That action is usually taken when there is a possibility that some evidence may be withheld from prosecutors due to various legal privileges.
“As a preliminary matter, the former president does not have judicial relief or standing to oversee presidential records because those records do not belong to him,” the DOJ wrote to Judge Eileen Cannon in U.S. District Court in South Florida.
Cannon, appointed by Trump, has set a hearing for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET in a West Palm Beach court. Trump’s legal team has until Wednesday night to respond to the DOJ’s latest filing.
In their filing Tuesday, prosecutors wrote that appointing a special chairman is “unnecessary” but that doing so would “significantly harm important government interests, including national security interests.”
That harm included interfering with the intelligence community’s “continuous review of the national security risk” that could have been caused by “improper storage of these highly sensitive materials,” the DOJ argued.
Documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Department of Justice
The response came a day after the DOJ disclosed to Cannon Examination of the seized items has been completed.
The DOJ told the court on Monday that the law enforcement panel has identified “limited” items that may be protected by the attorney-client privilege. That privilege often refers to a legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and their client.
The so-called privilege review panel — separate from the investigation that led the FBI to search Trump’s home earlier this month — follows a process to “resolve potential privilege disputes, if any,” the DOJ wrote.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, “is also conducting an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security posed by the release of these materials,” according to the filing.
The DOJ is conducting a criminal investigation into the removal and delivery of White House documents to Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach when he left office.
By law, presidential records must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration when the president leaves office.
The National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago in January. The following month, NARA sent a recommendation to the DOJ that the records contained “highly classified documents combined with other records,” according to an Aug. 8 affidavit used to obtain a warrant to search Trump’s home.
The DOJ said in a filing Tuesday night that the FBI “has uncovered substantial evidence indicating that those classified documents remained” at Mar-a-Lago.
“The government also produced evidence that government records may have been hidden and removed from a storage room and that efforts may have been made to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the DOJ wrote.
That evidence contradicts a June 3 sworn certification letter from Trump’s custodian of records, the DOJ wrote, saying it had turned over “any and all” documents in response to a grand jury subpoena.
According to the DOJ’s filing, the August search “cast serious doubt on the claim in the affidavit … that there was an ‘affirmative search’ for records responsive to a grand jury subpoena.”
The DOJ wrote that among evidence seized in that raid, “more than one hundred individual documents with classification markings — more than twice the amount produced in response to the June 3, 2022 grand jury subpoena — were seized.”
Before the DOJ released its midnight response, a group of former government officials asked the judge to allow the filing of “amici curiae” — Latin for “friends of the court” — arguing against Trump’s claims.
The panel includes six former federal prosecutors who served in Republican administrations and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who served as a Republican. Joe Biden than Trump in 2020.