Prosecutors have fleshed out new details about the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents, which he took from the White House to his resort and home in Florida. Trump and his allies have denied any wrongdoing.
In total, the US government has recovered more than 320 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago since January, including more than 100 seized during the August search, according to the DOJ.
The filing is in response to Trump’s offer for a “special master” in a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department, weeks after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. The judge handling the case, a Trump appointee, said his “preliminary intent” was to bring in a special master. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Here are some key takeaways from the repository, what we’ve learned, and where we’re going from there.
The documents were moved and possibly hidden from investigators
Documents were ‘likely concealed and removed’ from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago in an effort to ‘hinder’ the FBI investigation, the Justice Department said in its filing tuesday.
Additionally, the DOJ said the search “casts serious doubt” on its lawyers’ claims that there was a “diligent search” to turn over classified documents in response to a grand jury subpoena.
A lawyer for Trump signed a statement to the Justice Department in June certifying that all classified Mar-a-Lago documents had been returned.
“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 DOJ wrote.
DOJ rejects Trump’s criticism and lies about FBI research
The Justice Department filing gave federal investigators the chance to – formally – refute many of the claims made by Trump, his lawyers and political allies as they harshly attacked the unprecedented search of his residence by the FBI.
The DOJ wrote that the filing included a “detailed recitation of relevant facts, many of which are provided to correct the incomplete and inaccurate account presented in the plaintiff’s materials.”
The filing cites numerous examples refuting the Trump team’s claims about the search and what happened before it.
For example, a senior DOJ official says federal investigators were limited in what they could examine during their visit to the Mar-a-Lago resort in June, contrary to the Trump team’s narrative of cooperation. total.
Trump’s lawyers did not claim the documents were declassified
The DOJ account also undermined claims by Trump and his allies that the former president had declassified the documents in question.
“During the production of the documents, neither the attorney nor the custodian asserted that the former president had declassified the documents or claimed executive privilege,” the filing said.
“Instead, the attorney treated them in a way that suggested the attorney thought the documents were classified: the production included a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the document,” they said. added the prosecutors.
A picture is worth a thousand words
The last page of the 54-page court filing was a photo showing cover pages of classified documents laid out on the floor of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office, including documents containing highly sensitive material like human sources.
The photo drove home the message the Justice Department seemed to be sending on Tuesday by laying out its strongest defense yet against the search.
The government has taken custody of Mar-a-Lago documents three times this year: Trump voluntarily turned over 15 boxes to the National Archives in January, Trump’s team turned over some documents under subpoena in June, and agents from the FBI seized another 33 boxes during the Mar-a-Lago search earlier this month.
Prosecutors said FBI agents recovered more than 100 unique classified documents during the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. (Investigators did not reveal how many of them were “top secret.”)
About the passport
Trump attacked the FBI for taking his passports, although they were later returned, saying they fell outside the scope of the warrant and were improperly seized.
But the government claimed the passports were found in a desk drawer containing classified documents, the government files “mixed with other documents”.
“The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation into the unauthorized withholding and mishandling of national defense information; nonetheless, the government has decided to return these passports at its discretion,” the DOJ wrote.
Special master’s degree would prevent review of national security risks, DOJ says
The Justice Department argued in its court filing on Tuesday that appointing a special master to review documents from Trump’s residence would harm national security, arguing it would delay the community’s ongoing review. information on the documents kept at Mar-a-Lago.
“The appointment of a special captain would hamper the government’s ongoing criminal investigation and – if the special captain were tasked with reviewing classified documents – would prevent the intelligence community from conducting its ongoing review of the national security risk that improper storage of these highly sensitive materials may have caused and to identify steps to rectify or mitigate any harm caused by improper storage,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.
The department highlighted these risks, saying the special master would be “unnecessary,” given that the DOJ’s internal screening team had already completed its work of separating potentially privileged documents from documents seized for privileged documents, and “the “The government’s investigative team has already reviewed all remaining documents, including those that may be subject to executive privilege claims.”
“Furthermore, appointing a special petty officer would hamper the government’s ongoing criminal investigation,” the DOJ argued.
DOJ filing sets the stage for Trump’s response and Thursday’s hearing
With the revelations of the new case, time is running out for Trump to respond in another court submission scheduled for Wednesday, and then in court Thursday afternoon.
The deadline for Trump to file a written response to the department’s brief is Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
Then on Thursday, the two sides will argue before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach. On Saturday, Cannon signaled that she was inclined to grant Trump’s request for a special master in the order she issued on Saturday setting out the schedule for the briefings. But she said she has yet to make a final decision on the matter.