His attorneys argued in a lawsuit Wednesday that the storage of sensitive government documents at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, “should not have been a cause for concern.”
“The purported justification for initiating this criminal investigation was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained in 15 boxes of presidential records. But this ‘discovery’ was entirely expected given the nature of presidential records,” according to the filing. Simply put, the idea that presidential records contain sensitive information should not be a cause for concern.
Last week, Trump asked a third-party private master to review materials taken from his Mar-a-Lago home during a court-approved search in early August. His attorneys argued that a private master was necessary to ensure that the Department of Justice returned any private or privileged documents seized during the search, and that the Department would “leak and publicize the investigation.”
US District Judge Elaine Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, scheduled a hearing Thursday afternoon to hear their arguments.
FBI investigators are investigating potential crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice, related to top-secret national security documents stored at Trump’s Palm Beach residence. On August 8, FBI agents removed more than 100 documents containing classified information — including some marked top secret that was supposed to be available only at special government facilities — and 20 boxes of materials from the Trump estate. in Mar-a-Lago.
Trump filed an application for a special master on August 22, asking a judge to prevent the administration from reviewing items until they are viewed by a court-appointed third party.
The Department of Justice asked Cannon to deny Trump’s request, arguing that a private master would normally only be used when searching a lawyer’s home or property. Ministry officials also argue that the request was submitted too late and an attempt to disrupt the investigation. The information has already been reviewed by investigators, and the liquidation team has removed information that may be subject to attorney-client privilege, the Justice Department wrote in its filing Tuesday.
Justice Department officials said in a filing Tuesday that appointing a third-party special director will slow the government’s investigation and intelligence community efforts to determine whether people have gained access to the unsecured documents without the proper clearance.
Trump responded in a post on the Truth Social website early Wednesday, questioning why the FBI had taken pictures of the material and included it in public court files.
Think they want to keep it a secret? Lucky I got up! ” He said.
Trump and some of his allies argued, without evidence, that he declassified the information that was in Mar-a-Lago, but his attorneys did not make that argument in court, including in Wednesday’s filing.
The Justice Department said in a filing Tuesday that over the course of months of talks about recovering classified information, Trump’s lawyers had never claimed that he had declassified the information, and that they had treated materials delivered to the FBI in June as if they were classified.
The Justice Department also noted that even if Trump declassified the information, he has no legal right to seize government property.
Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, all documents created for or by the President in the course of his or her office are Presidential Records and must be transferred to the National Archives for public use.