Trump Attorneys Deny Justice Division Request For Labeled Paperwork

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

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) criminal investigation seized to resume immediately.

His attorneys also issued a filing asking US District Judge Aileen Cannon to make those roughly 100 documents — among the more than 11,000 records found in the court-authorized Aug. 8 search — part of a review being conducted by an independent Judges, called special masters, will conduct to review all materials.

The special master requested by Trump and approved by the judge last week could consider documents privileged and withhold them from investigators.

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Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for keeping government records – some of which were marked top secret, including “top secret” – at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach after leaving office in January 2021. The ministry is also investigating a possible clogging of the probe.

Trump’s attorneys also told Cannon Monday they oppose two retired judges — Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith — who have been proposed by the government to serve as special masters. Trump’s team has nominated federal judge Raymond Dearie and former Florida assistant attorney general Paul Huck for the role. The department is scheduled to consider Trump’s proposed candidate later Monday.

In another development, the Justice Department has indicted a Texas woman who prosecutors have accused of threatening Cannon over the phone, including saying the judge was “condemned to murder.” The incident is the latest example of threats reported against various federal agencies in recent months. Continue reading

Cannon previously prevented the department from immediately using the confiscated records for the investigation, a move that will slow prosecutors’ work and make it harder for them to determine whether additional classified materials might be missing. Continue reading

“In a document retention dispute that has spiraled out of control, the administration is unjustly seeking to criminalize the 45th President’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

“The government should therefore not be allowed to skip the process and go straight to a predetermined conclusion,” they added.

Trump’s attorneys in Monday’s filing disputed the department’s claim that the 100 or so documents in question are in fact classified, and they reminded Cannon that a president generally has broad powers to release records. They briefly paused from suggesting that Trump declassified the documents, a claim he has made on social media but not in court filings.

“There is still disagreement about the confidentiality status of the documents,” Trump’s lawyers write. “The government’s position is therefore based on a fact that has not yet been established.”

The Justice Department has asked the judge to immediately allow investigators to proceed with the review of the documents marked as classified. If the judge decides the department can no longer rely on the classified materials for its criminal investigation, or insists that the special counsel review them, prosecutors have vowed to appeal to a higher court.

The document investigation is one of several federal and state investigations Trump has faced since his tenure and in the private sector as he considers another run for the presidency in 2024.

After the search, Trump’s attorneys sought to appoint a special supervisor to review the seized records for materials that could fall under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege — a legal doctrine that may protect some presidential records from disclosure.

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

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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