Former US president Donald Trump’s team may not have returned all the classified files that were removed from the White House at the end of his presidency even after the FBI raided his Florida home, the public prosecutors said. US prosecutors warned on Thursday, calling it a potential national security risk requiring an investigation.
That disclosure came in a Justice Department court filing asking U.S. Judge Aileen Cannon for further review of about 100 top-secret files seized by the FBI at the Mar-a-Lago estate of the United States. Trump while investigating whether classified documents were illegally removed from the White House. improperly stored there.
Trump is under investigation for keeping government records, some marked as top secret, at his Palm Beach, Fla., resort after leaving office in January 2021.
The 100 documents represent part of more than 11,000 records and images seized, most of which the Trump administration has said may be subject to review because they are unclassified.
“This recommendation is limited to … classified records seized because those aspects of the order would cause the most immediate and serious harm to the government and the public,” the department said in the filing. its court case.
Court records ask judge to disallow ‘special employer’
Prosecutors also asked the judge not to allow an independent arbitrator, known as a “special master,” to review classified documents seized from Trump’s property.
Trump, in a post on his social platform Truth, described the request as a waste of money.
The Justice Department on Thursday suggested there may be more top-secret records removed from Trump’s White House that investigators have not yet identified.
The disclosure comes about a week after the Justice Department released a detailed list of properties seized from the Trump home, which showed the FBI found 48 empty folders labeled as classified and 42 others. said they should be returned to a secretary or military assistant.
Legal experts were confused as to why the folders were empty, and it was not clear if records were lost.
“Without the stay, the government and the public will also suffer irreparable harm from the undue delay in criminal investigation,” the prosecutors wrote.
“A ban on the use of classified records in criminal investigations could hamper efforts to determine the existence of any additional classified records that are not properly maintained – this in itself has the potential to ongoing threat to national security,” they said.
Prosecutors ready to appeal
Prosecutors have asked Cannon to issue a ruling by September 15. If she denies their request, they plan to file an appeal with the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals based in Atlanta. where six of the 11 active judges are Trump appointees.
In an order Thursday night, Cannon gave Trump’s attorney until Monday morning to respond to the government’s request.
Cannon, also a Trump appointee, on Monday ordered prosecutors to pause their review of more than 11,000 recovered records while a special master’s was appointed to review the document.
The Justice Department said on Friday it will provide the court with a list of special master’s candidates that may be on file jointly with Trump’s attorneys, as Cannon has requested.
The Justice Department is also investigating possible obstruction of justice, after uncovering evidence that the records may have been deleted or concealed from the FBI when the agency sent agents to Trump’s home last month. 6 to attempt to recover all classified documents through a grand jury subpoena.
Cannon accepted Trump’s request for a special master, despite objections from prosecutors.
The judge said the special superintendent will review documents not only under attorney-client privilege but also any records that may be subject to executive privilege. Executive privilege is a legal doctrine that can protect certain presidential records from disclosure.
Executive privilege logic challenged
The Justice Department has challenged the logic of using executive privilege because Trump does not own the records and is no longer president. Cannon’s argument has also been criticized by Democratic and Republican legal experts.
“It is unlikely that any assertion of executive privilege would justify restricting the executive branch’s review and use of the classified records in question here,” the Justice Department wrote in a statement. Thursday file.
In Cannon’s order Monday, she gave US intelligence officials permission to review all seized documents as part of their ongoing national security damage assessment.
But the Justice Department said there was no way to stop the criminal investigation and national security review.
“The ongoing Intelligence Community taxonomy and review are inextricably linked with – and inseparable from – the DOJ’s investigative areas and the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation.” prosecutors said.
‘Astute tactical strategy’
Several legal experts on Thursday praised the Justice Department’s approach to Cannon’s order, saying it carefully reserved the right to appeal the larger concerns about a special general appointment. , while also asking Cannon for a much narrower solution to the larger concerns.
“I think the government has embarked on a shrewd tactical strategy,” said David Laufman, a lawyer formerly head of the department’s counterintelligence division.
He said the department’s legal strategy would put “a scalpel” in Cannon’s order by seeking immediate relief from its worst parts, while still reserving the right to appeal in the future. future.
“They are focusing on what is most important and most time-sensitive, regarding the protection of the national security interests of the United States and conducting further investigative activities,” he said.