The Department of Justice (DOJ) is steamrolling ahead as fast as it can to nail former President Trump and is opposing the appointment of a “special master” to review documents seized by the FBI in the raid of Mar-a-Lago.
(Video Credit: ABC News)
The federal government is asserting that allegedly classified documents were “likely concealed” at Trump’s residence in violation of a grand jury subpoena, according to Fox News. It should be noted that the use of the word “likely” will be seized upon by Trump’s attorneys as that indicates there is no evidence of any such thing.
Trump’s attorneys claim that all of the records at Mar-a-Lago that were taken from the White House were locked up in a secure storage room on the property. A robust lock was installed at the behest of the DOJ before a search warrant was obtained.
The DOJ is claiming that the documents were likely “concealed and removed from the storage room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” Again, the wording alludes to the fact that there is a lack of evidence to prove such an allegation.
The warrant was ostensibly granted after “the government developed evidence that a search limited to the storage room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at the premises.” The FBI would go on to break into Trump’s safe, toss his office, and paw its way through his wife Melania’s closet in search of said classified documents.
BREAKING: DOJ files response to Trump request to appoint a special master to review the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago — https://t.co/aZWwNDZuai
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) August 31, 2022
“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” the filing added.
The DOJ asserted that Trump’s request for a special master “fails for multiple, independent reasons,” arguing that it’s both “unnecessary” and would “harm national security interests.” It appears to ignore Trump’s rights entirely.
The filing goes on to contend that the former president “lacks standing” for a special master because the records in question belong to the United States, not to him.
NEW: DOJ says in response to Trump special master request that “the former President lacks standing to seek judicial relief or oversight as to Presidential records because those records do not belong to him”
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) August 31, 2022
It also states that he won’t suffer any injury without an injunction “and the harms to the government and the public would far outweigh any benefit” to Trump personally.
The filing claims that materials that are subject to attorney-client privilege were already separated by the agency’s filter team.
“Furthermore, appointment of a special master would impede the government’s ongoing criminal investigation and—if the special master were tasked with reviewing classified documents—would impede 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 from identifying measures to rectify or mitigate any damage that improper storage caused,” it charged. “Lastly, this case does not involve any of the types of circumstances that have warranted appointment of a special master to review materials potentially subject to attorney-client privilege.”
“Counsel for the former president offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the premises nearly five months after the production of the fifteen boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the administration,” the filing charges.
It also claims that Trump’s personal effects are not subject to return for a number of reasons, including “commingling personal effects with documents bearing classification markings is relevant evidence of the statutory offenses under investigation.”
DOJ will take all the space the Court will allow to argue against the need for a special master pic.twitter.com/7tu2J1HJhb
— Carrie Cordero (@carriecordero) August 31, 2022
“Of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly [sic] identified.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). The NARA referral was made on two bases: evidence that classified records had been stored at the premises until midJanuary 2022, and evidence that certain pages of presidential records had been torn up,” the filing continued.
“During the August 8 execution of the search warrant at the premises, the government seized thirty-three boxes, containers, or items of evidence, which contained over a hundred classified records, including information classified at the highest levels,” it asserts.
The DOJ is also brushing off the claim of executive privilege.
“The former president cites no case—and the government is aware of none—in which executive privilege has been successfully invoked to prohibit the sharing of documents within the Executive Branch,” it contends.
If DOJ thought they had Trump on obstruction, they wouldn't disclose it now, least of all for a motion opposing a special master (it has no legal bearing on that issue anyway). It's just a smear tactic in their p.r. war against Trump.
— Robert Barnes (@barnes_law) August 31, 2022
The Justice Department’s filing on Tuesday follows the Florida federal judge overseeing the case, Aileen M. Cannon, indicating on Saturday her willingness to grant Trump’s request for a special master.
Trump contends that he declassified the documents while he was president.
A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday to consider Trump’s request for a special master, which is a third-party attorney appointed by a court to oversee a case.
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