Trump argues that he has broad authority as president to declassify records, and that a former president should have “unfettered right of access” to presidential records – whether classified or not.
“In what is at its core a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the government is improperly seeking to criminalize the 45th President’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” writes Trump’s legal team.
Trump’s filing called Mar-a-Lago “a secure, controlled-access compound used regularly to conduct official United States business during the Trump presidency, which to this day is monitored by the United States Secret Service.” , and that the documents were kept in a locked room.
“The government generally points to the alleged urgent need to carry out a risk assessment of possible unauthorized release of alleged ‘classified documents’. But there is no evidence that alleged ‘classified records’ have been released to anyone “, states Trump’s filing.
According to court documents, investigators previously instructed Trump in June to secure all classified documents in a locked room at Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department told the court it was treating documents marked as classified as such until they could be fully reviewed. But Trump’s team is using the fact that the documents have not yet been fully reviewed to argue that he and a special handler should be able to access documents marked as classified.
“There still remains disagreement as to the classification status of the documents. The government’s position therefore assumes a fact not yet established,” Trump’s team wrote.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, when she ordered that a special master be brought in to examine the documents obtained in the search, halted all use of the seized documents for the DOJ’s criminal investigation. She said, however, that the assessment of the intelligence community could continue. The Justice Department argues that the criminal investigation could not be divorced from the intelligence community’s review.
Trump’s team also wrote that a “President enjoys absolute authority under Executive Order to declassify any information. There is no legitimate claim that the Chief Executive’s declassification of documents requires approval from bureaucratic components of the executive branch.Yet the government apparently maintains that President Trump, who had full authority to declassify documents, “deliberately” withheld classified information in violation of the law. government seeks to prevent any possibility of examining this issue”.
This story has been updated with additional details.