The filing came in response to Asset‘s request of August 22 – two weeks after the search for Mar-a-Lago – for a special master to revise documents seized from his Florida property.
Justice officials said appointing a special master would hamper the government’s criminal investigation.
Such a review of classified documents “would prevent the intelligence community from conducting its ongoing review of the national security risk that improper storage of these highly sensitive documents may have caused and from identifying steps to rectify or mitigate any harm caused by improper storage,” the Justice Department document states.
The Justice Department said it could not trust information from Trump’s orbit before the Florida search and that a representative of the former president falsely claimed that classified documents had been turned over to the government. The fact that so many documents were found “casts serious doubt” on the Trump team’s claim that there was a “diligent search” for documents responding to the grand jury subpoena in May.
“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,” the Justice Department said in the filing.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump, reported over the weekend that she was inclined to accede to the former president’s request and appoint a third party to review the documents to ensure that they do not contain information protected by professional secrecy. the lawyer. The Justice Department said a government screening team separate from the investigation had already identified “a limited set of documents” potentially containing inside information.
In Tuesday night’s filing, the Justice Department argued that a special master’s degree was not needed because government review teams had already completed their work. “It would do little or nothing to protect any legitimate interests the plaintiff may have while impeding the government’s ongoing criminal investigation,” the filing said.
The The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 after lengthy discussions with officials at the National Archives and the Department of Justice for nearly 18 months.
A redacted copy of affidavit which laid out probable cause for the search, revealed that the National Archives referred the case to the FBI after finding “numerous classified documents” in 15 boxes Trump turned over to the National Archives earlier this year. A subsequent examination of the boxes by the FBI in May showed that 14 of the 15 boxes contained documents with classification marks. A total of 184 unique documents bearing classification marks were found, 25 of which were marked “TOP SECRET”.
The FBI was authorized to seize all documents bearing classified marks, containers in which classified documents were found, all government or presidential records created during Trump’s tenure, and any “evidence of knowledge of tampering, the destruction or concealment of any Government and/or Presidential Records, or any document with classification marks.”
What to know about the criminal investigation into classified documents at Mar-a-Lago
In Tuesday night’s filing, the Justice Department said more than 100 unique classified documents had been seized at Mar-a-Lago this month.
“Three classified documents that were not in boxes, but rather in the offices of ‘Office 45,’ were also seized,” the Justice Department wrote.
The DOJ took the dramatic step of seeking a search warrant after obtaining evidence that classified information remained at Mar-a-Lago, despite assurances from the Trump team that all classified documents had been turned over pursuant to a May 11 subpoena to appear before a grand jury, according to Tuesday’s filing.
“The government has also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from storage and that efforts were likely made to impede the government’s investigation,” the DOJ filing said.
From retrieved documents from Mar-a-Lago were Roger Stone’s clemency papers, information on the President of France, and a wealth of confidential and classified documents, as well as presidential records. FBI agents seized 26 boxes, along with a box of leather-bound documents containing top secret/sensitive compartmented information, according to the receipt for ownership of the recovered items that was previously filed.
The Justice Department also argued in Tuesday’s filing that Trump had no rights to the presidential records, “because those records do not belong to him.” Under the Presidential Records Act, the documents belong to the United States, the filing said.
If the judge appointed a special master, the Justice Department sought to limit duties to claims of solicitor-client privilege among documents already identified by government review. He asked that final decisions on disputed materials be made by September 30.
In a separate space deposit On Tuesday, several former federal prosecutors who served during Republican administrations — Donald B. Ayer, Gregory A. Brower, John J. Farmer Jr., Stuart M. Gerson, Peter D. Keisler, William F. Weld and Christine Todd Whitman — wrote that “regardless of his political views, it is clear that there is no legal support for the relief sought by the former president.”
Daniel Barnes, Phil Health and Tom Winter contributed.