DOJ cites efforts to obstruct Mar-a-Lago probe

Politics

(NewsNation) — Government documents were likely concealed and removed from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago in an effort to obstruct the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified records, the Justice Department argued in a court filing Tuesday night.

That new detail came in a DOJ response to Trump’s request for an independent review of the documents seized Aug. 8 during an FBI search of his Florida estate. U.S. attorneys argue Trump has no standing for judicial relief because the records don’t belong to him.

Trump reacted to the court filing through his social media app, Truth Social, hitting back in a series of posts.

“Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see. Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!,” he wrote in one of the posts.

Major news outlets filed a joint motion Wednesday to obtain access to sealed court records in the Trump vs. USA case, stating that if the government has told the court the documents should be unsealed, the media has the right to access that information as well.

The Tuesday court filing lays out the most detailed chronology to date of interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the presence of the documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The filing also includes a single photo of some of the documents found. Papers bearing classification markings — at least five marked “Top Secret // SCI” — lie on the floor next to a Banker’s Box with picture frames, one displaying a Time magazine cover.

The document sheds new details on the events of this past May and June, when FBI and Justice Department officials issued a subpoena for the missing records and then visited a storage room at Mar-a-Lago that contained top-secret documents and other information.

The DOJ says Trump’s lawyers told them in June that all the records that had come from the White House were stored in one location — a Mar-a-Lago storage room — and that, “There were no other records stored in any private office space or other location at the Premises and that all available boxes were searched.”

But when agents searched the home earlier this month, they also found documents in Trump’s office, including some in desks.

“Moreover, the search cast serious doubt on the claim in the certification … that there had been ‘a diligent search’ for records responsive to the grand jury subpoena. In the storage room alone, FBI agents found 76 documents bearing classification markings,” prosecutors wrote. “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.”

Trump’s legal team sued the government last week, requesting a judge appoint a special master to review the documents taken and order the return of some of them. In its response, the DOJ said appointing a special master would interfere with its investigation and delay a “threat assessment” being conducted by the intelligence community.

In a separate development, the Trump legal team has grown with the addition of another attorney. Chris Kise, Florida’s former solicitor general, has joined the team of lawyers representing Trump, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss the move by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Kise did not return messages seeking comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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