Donald Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly failed to prove the former president declassified government records obtained from his Florida home as part of a criminal investigation, the Justice Department told a federal appeals court.
The Justice Department made that argument late Tuesday as it sought to resume scrutiny of records marked classified as seized from Trump’s Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago in an FBI raid last month.
The Justice Department’s filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit hit back at Trump’s lawyers, who earlier on Tuesday asked the court to preserve a lower federal judge’s ruling that prevented the government from reviewing the impounded document.
Trump “indicated again that he could have declassified the records before leaving office,” federal prosecutors wrote.
“However, as before, the plaintiff has clearly failed to show, let alone show, that he did take that step,” they wrote, referring to Trump.
Justice Department lawyers added that Trump is “now rejecting” a request by the court-appointed special director to provide evidence that he declassified the seized records.
“In any event, the plaintiff’s effort to raise questions about classification status is a distraction,” the prosecutor argued. “Even if the plaintiff can prove that he declassified the disputed records, there is still no reason to limit the government’s role in the ongoing criminal investigation. Use evidence.”
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has authorized the appointment of an independent third party to review thousands of records to identify personal items and information that may be protected by various legal privileges. As part of the ruling, Cannon temporarily prevented the DOJ from reviewing or using the seized material as part of its criminal investigation.
The DOJ appealed for the 11th Circuit to strike down part of Cannon’s order prohibiting the use of classified-marked government records and for the government to disclose those records to the special director.
Trump and Justice Department attorneys showed up in Brooklyn on Tuesday afternoon for a meeting with special guru, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie. He was chosen by Trump for the role and appointed by Cannon, who himself was nominated by Trump.
But in a court meeting on Tuesday, Deere questioned Trump’s lawyers whether, if any, the seized Mar-a-Lago records had been declassified, NBC News reported.
Dearie said the Justice Department provided “prime evidence” that the documents marked classified were in fact classified. Unless Trump’s lawyers can provide evidence to refute that position, “that’s where it ends, as far as I’m concerned,” Deerey said.
The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago in August. 8. Seek material showing violations of obstruction of justice and erasure of official records laws, as well as U.S. espionage laws.
The Justice Department later revealed that federal agents seized more than 100 documents marked as classified during that raid. Court documents also show that the FBI found four empty folders marked “confidential” during the raid. Dearie said Tuesday that 11,000 documents are in dispute.
Trump and his allies have argued in interviews and on social media that he declassified all government records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. But lawyers for the former president did not respond to that claim in court.
On Tuesday, they told the appeals court that the Justice Department had failed to prove the documents were classified and claimed the president “has the absolute authority to declassify any information.”
Trump’s lawyers added in a footnote that “the fact that the document contains a classification mark does not necessarily negate a claim of privilege.” They noted that some of the classified documents, according to the probable cause affidavit used to obtain the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, The documents also included Trump’s handwritten notes.
“These notes may, of course, contain privileged information,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
“We shouldn’t have to disclose” statements and witness statements about the classification issue, Trump attorney James Tosti said Tuesday afternoon before the special counsel in Brooklyn federal court, NBC reported. .
Dearie replied: “My point is that you can’t eat cake at the same time.”