Donald Trump admitted to illegally possessing official government documents in his court filings surrounding the seizure of items from his Florida resort. Former President Argued that some documents collected by the FBI may be subject to executive privilege.
The The petition was filed on Monday Lawyers for the former president have argued that the court should appoint a so-called special master to determine separately what materials the judiciary can consider as evidence because of privilege issues.
But Trump’s argument that some of the documents are subject to executive privilege protections implies that those documents are official records he is not authorized to keep and should have been transferred to the National Archives at the end of the administration.
That movement, in that regard, acknowledged that Trump had violated one of the criminal statutes listed in the warrant used. FBI To find the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort – 18 USC 2071 – About illegal disposal of government records.
“If he admits that he has documents that have a colorable claim of executive privilege, they are by definition presidential records and in the National Archives,” said former Asha Rangappa. FBI Agent and former Associate Dean at Yale Law School.
“So it’s not clear whether executive privilege even applies to the specific offense he’s being investigated for, but in this filing, he basically admits to having them, and that’s what the government is trying to establish,” Rangappa said.
Trump could continue to make the case that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents, and that the FBI should receive a detailed receipt of what it recovered. Mar-a-Lago and prevent the Justice Department from further reviewing the materials until the process is complete.
The reason, former U.S. attorneys say, is that communications seized by the FBI may be privileged but not used in furtherance of a crime, and should be blocked even if the Justice Department wants to use them in an investigation. Doing so.
A person directly involved in Trump’s legal defense noted — a recurring passage in the filing — that the Presidential Records Act lacks an enforcement mechanism, even as they acknowledge that the judicial privilege argument may be implied.
A possible obstacle
But Trump’s move could throw additional challenges at the former president, with additional paragraphs in the filing that could be considered obstruction of justice in a months-long battle to recover some records by the Justice Department.
The search warrant for Mar-a-Lago listed prohibitions that could be violated, though it was unclear whether that was a prohibition on an investigation to retrieve government documents from Mar-a-Lago or a separate investigation.
Yet part of Trump’s proposal is “”Voluntary assistance from President Donald J. TrumpHe described the steps the Justice Department took to recover 15 boxes, initially in January, additional items in June, and then 26 boxes when the FBI conducted a search.
The filing details how Trump returned 15 boxes to the National Archives and then — a day after the National Archives told Trump’s lawyers the boxes contained classified documents — “accepted service of a grand jury subpoena” for more documents with classification marks.
But despite seizing documents responding to the subpoena, the Justice Department learned that additional documents may have been marked classified, and on June 22 issued a subpoena seeking security camera footage of the hallway where the items were stored.
That subpoena for security tapes of CCTV footage of the area shortly before the FBI search on Aug. 8 says the Justice Department doesn’t think Trump is being or is forthcoming in the investigation.
Those suspicions were well-founded: When the government retrieved materials from Mar-a-Lago in that second collection in June, Trump’s custodian of records certified that they had returned the documents in response to the subpoena — only the FBI wanted to retrieve them. More boxes of assorted goods.
Separately, the brief appears to be procedurally unwieldy, except that it was filed late, two weeks after the FBI search.
The petition was not filed in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the warrant was approved. Instead, it was filed in Ft Pierce, where the judge had no knowledge of the underlying affidavit — and could rule that Trump was exposed if he or his lawyers were suspicious of the obstruction.