Reports: DOJ wants Trump team held in contempt

Politics

(NewsNation) — The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to hold Donald Trump’s legal team in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena ordering the former president to turn over classified documents, according to media reports.

Prosecutors in recent days have urged U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt after the former president and his lawyers failed to comply with the May subpoena that sought all classified documents in Trump’s possession, the Washington Post reported.

The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate on Aug. 8, and recovered approximately 100 documents with classification markings. The Justice Department asserts in court documents that attempts to coordinate with Trump’s lawyers to voluntarily retrieve the documents broke down, necessitating the search.

The contempt request comes after months of frustration between the two sides. A key disagreement is about the Trump legal team’s refusal to sign an affidavit attesting all classified documents have been returned to the government, the Post reported.

Earlier this week, Trump’s legal team said it conducted searches at other Trump properties, including his home in Manhattan, and discovered two more classified documents at a storage unit. His lawyers turned over the documents and said they were now in compliance with the May subpoena.

But prosecutors told Howell they disagreed and believe the searches weren’t satisfactory, CNN reported. The proceedings before Howell are under seal.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said the former president’s lawyers “continue to be cooperative and transparent,” according to the Post.

Trump’s team had twice turned over documents to the Justice Department: once in January and once in June. After the June meeting, Trump attorney Christina Bobb signed a attestation that a diligent search had been conducted for any classified material.

But prosecutors believed there were more, which they found during the Mar-a-Lago search that was authorized by a court warrant. Now, according to CNN and the Post, none of Trump’s lawyers are willing to sign another affidavit that all materials have been returned.

Bradley Moss, a national security attorney, appeared on Dan Abrams Live, called the developments a “significant escalation.”

“Clearly, if the government is still pushing this, they’ve got something else. I don’t know what they have, they must have submitted something to the judge,” Moss said. “It would have had to have been in that court filing, seeking contempt. It would have had to have been the judge if she’s ultimately going to rule in their favor, that there are more documents.”

On Thursday, a separate federal appeals court ended an independent review of the documents that were found during the Mar-a-Lago search. Trump’s team filed a lawsuit requesting the special master nearly a month after the search, and a district court judge ruled in favor of the former president.

Judge Aileen Cannon appointed Raymond Dearie to oversee the review and blocked the Justice Department from using the 100 classified documents in its investigation. The Justice Department appealed, and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously sided with federal prosecutors that Cannon had no authority to appoint a special master.

Trump’s team opted not to appeal the ruling halting the special master review, an order that took effect Thursday.

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