By raising such concerns, the lawyers are at least acknowledging that the former president or his aides could face criminal charges in the case. Trump’s legal team has repeatedly suggested in court filings that the former president could have declassified the documents — but they haven’t actually asserted that he did.
Trump lawyer admits Mar-a-Lago case could lead to prosecution
The newly appointed special director, Federal Judge Raymond J. Dearie, is weighing the mechanics of how to review 11,000 documents, about 100 of which were marked confidential, which were filmed on Aug. 1. On Aug. 8, FBI agents conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s residence and private club.
His first meeting with the two sides began at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Trump’s legal team has been pushing for months about what classified documents he had after he left the White House and whether he returned them all to the government, prosecutors said. The search was necessary to recover highly sensitive national security documents. Officials said they were investigating several potential crimes, including mishandling defense information and hiding or destroying government records.
Trump’s lawyers have accused the Justice Department of trying to turn a record-keeping dispute with the National Archives and Records Administration into a criminal case.
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon, appointed by Trump, granted Trump’s request for a special guru — a neutral third-party legal expert — to review the seized documents to determine which may contain In attorney-client privilege or distance claims. More vague and controversial claims of executive privilege.
After Cannon named Dearie as special director, Dearie ordered both parties to appear in court on Tuesday to discuss mechanisms for reviewing the documents — even as the Justice Department is appealing parts of Cannon’s order.
Prosecutors have asked a higher court to uphold Cannon’s decision that Dearie should review classified and unclassified documents, and that the FBI and Justice Department cannot use classified documents as part of their criminal investigations while a special master review is underway.
Trump’s legal team echoed that argument on Tuesday, reiterating their suggestion that prosecutors may be wrong about whether the 100 documents at the heart of the case are classified.
“The administration again assumes that documents it claims to be classified are in fact classified and that their isolation is inviolable. However, the administration has yet to prove this key fact,” Trump’s briefing said.
Among classified materials retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, the Washington Post reported, was a document describing the military defenses of foreign governments, including their nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. Sensitive details describing an ongoing investigation.
Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations that are closely guarded with only the president, some members of his cabinet or Officials close to the cabinet level could authorize other government officials to access their details, these people said.
Records dealing with such procedures are almost always in a secure segregated information facility, the location of which is closely monitored by designated controllers.
Barrett reported from Washington.