Trump lawyers suggest seized documents may not be classified

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump filed court documents on Monday opposing any pause in a judge’s trial order a special master to examine the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago last month, suggesting that some of the documents marked classified may not be, and that Trump may be entitled to keep the documents in his possession.

“In what is at its core a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the 45th President’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, claiming that prosecutors were trying to limit any outside scrutiny of “what he considers to be ‘classified records.’ ”

Their filing was in response to the Justice Department’s request for U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon to temporarily suspend portions of her Labor Day order, in which she agreed to appoint a special master to review thousands of documents seized by the FBI in court. -approved search of Trump’s club and residence on August 8.

Federal prosecutors asked Cannon to suspend his decision that the FBI would not use the more than 100 classified documents seized in the search until they were reviewed by the special master, essentially an outside legal expert. The government also asked Cannon to exempt the classified documents from outside review, saying requiring such a review would unnecessarily complicate national security concerns in the high-profile case.

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In their filing, Trump’s lawyers disagree, accusing prosecutors of overstating national security concerns and that “there is no indication that any alleged ‘classified documents’ were disclosed to anyone.” The filing was submitted by four members of Trump’s legal team: Christopher Kise, Lindsey Halligan, Evan Corcoran and James Trusty.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that the government “has not proven” that documents marked classified are in fact still classified. A section of their 21-page filing describes a president’s power to declassify documents, but does not say that Trump actually declassified the material before leaving office. The filing also says there is no indication that the “alleged” classified documents “have been disclosed to anyone.”

The Washington Post reported that among the documents seized by the FBI was a describing the military defenses of a foreign government, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. These people also said that some of the documents seized detailed top-secret US operations that are so closely watched that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

The Justice Department said in court documents that among the more than 100 classified documents collected in August, some were labeled “HCS,” a category of highly classified government information referring to “HUMINT control systems,” which are systems used to protect information. gathered from secret human sources. There were also dozens of empty files marked classified, according to a government inventory filed in court, and documents marked confidential, secret and top secret.

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“The government argues that President Trump cannot have such an interest in the so-called ‘classified documents,'” the filing from Trump’s legal team reads. proved that these documents remain classified. This question must be determined later. .”

Lawyers for the former president also said the investigation into the documents should focus on the Presidential Archives Act – a civil law that states that the presidential archives belong to the government, not the individual president. Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing that their interpretation of parts of the law suggests Trump has “an absolute right of access” to his presidential records. They did not address the criminal laws – including part of the Espionage Act – that the government alleges has been violated by keeping or hiding classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago Documents: A Timeline

Trump’s attorneys suggest recent coverage of the case in the documents shows the government is being selective and unfair in raising national security concerns, citing the Post’s report that materials implicating a nuclear foreign country were among the documents seized.

“The government is apparently not concerned about unauthorized leaks regarding the contents of the alleged ‘classified documents,'” the filing reads.

For months before the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Justice Department tried to get Trump to return all White House and presidential documents still in his possession, according to court documents in the case.

In May, the government subpoenaed Trump, asking for any classified documents he still had. His lawyers told the government in response to the subpoena that everything had been returned. But last month’s search yielded 27 additional boxes containing a mix of personal items and classified and unclassified government documents.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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