Trump tells court classified documents should have been expected in presidential files found at Mar-a-Lago

The filing acknowledged that classified documents were found at Mar-a-Lago, but said it shouldn’t have been alarming – and shouldn’t have led to the search of Trump’s Florida residence earlier this month. .

Trump’s new filing on Wednesday is his platform to formally respond to prosecutors’ claims that members of his legal team engaged in “obstructive conduct” by concealing documents at his Florida compound and providing false information to investigators about the number of classified documents remaining on site.

The Justice Department had said in court papers that the search was undertaken after the FBI developed evidence that Trump’s team hid documents after claiming all classified documents were turned over in June.

“The purported rationale for initiating this criminal investigation was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained within the 15 boxes of presidential files,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “But this ‘discovery’ had to be fully anticipated given the very nature of the presidential archives. Simply put, the idea that the presidential archives would contain sensitive information should never have been alarming.”

Trump’s lawyers argue that under the Presidential Records Act, the archives should have followed up in good faith to ensure the recovery of presidential records, rather than referring a criminal investigation to the Justice Department.

The dueling court documents are the subject of a civil lawsuit that Trump filed earlier this month, as part of his bid to obtain a “special master” appointed to review documents the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago. Federal prosecutors oppose the request, say it would hamper the ongoing criminal investigation and the intelligence community’s review of any national security risk, and want the suit dismissed.

Hearing Thursday on the special master

Trump filed a lawsuit early last week – 14 days after the search warrant was executed – claiming his constitutional rights were violated during the search. He demanded that a special master be appointed to examine the documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. A special master is a third-party attorney who is appointed by the courts in certain situations — often those where law firms have been raided — to review government-obtained evidence and filter out privileged documents that need to be kept out of reach. investigators.

After Trump’s initial lawsuit was seen as lacking several key legal elements, the judge handling the case – appointed by Trump Judge Aileen Cannon — asked his lawyers to supplement it with additional information last Friday. She said in an order on Saturday that she was inclined to appoint the special master, but would first review court documents responding to the request and hear arguments about it on Thursday.

The Justice Department argued in Tuesday’s filing that appointing a special petty officer would be both ‘unnecessary’ and a move that would hamper the criminal investigation as well as the risk assessment undertaken by the intelligence community. . Prosecutors argued that Trump had not passed the procedural thresholds required to make the request.

Trump lawyers face scrutiny over level of cooperation with Justice Department over classified documents

The DOJ said Trump’s scenario — a scenario primarily focused on dubious claims of executive privilege — was very different from situations in which special masters were typically appointed. In these cases, documents covered by solicitor-client privilege are the primary concern.

Prosecutors previously told the court that “a limited set of documents” potentially covering solicitor-client privilege were recovered during the search. The DOJ’s internal screening team has already completed its work of separating these documents from what is shared with investigators, the department said on Tuesday, and the rest of the documents have already been reviewed by officers working on the case. .

This story has been updated with additional details.

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