Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Wednesday sought to downplay the federal government’s discovery of highly classified records inside his Florida estate, telling a judge that presidential records by their very nature are sensitive.
The filing came one day before Trump’s legal team will square off against the U.S. Justice Department in a federal court in West Palm Beach, in a bid by Trump to persuade U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the materials seized by the FBI from his home on August 8.
“Simply put, the notion that presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm,” his attorneys said.
They also attacked the Justice Department for executing the unprecedented search, saying Trump was engaging in a “standard give-and-take” with the U.S. National Archives over the return of presidential records, and that he allowed FBI agents to “come to his home and provide security advice.”
The filing by Trump’s team came less than 24 hours after the Justice Department released a scathing 54-page document with exhibits outlining publicly for the first time evidence it obtained that Trump may have tried to obstruct its investigation by deliberately trying to conceal documents.
In it, prosecutors said Trump’s representatives falsely certified that they had conducted a thorough search and that all records responsive to a grand jury subpoena had been returned when FBI agents and a top Justice Department official visited Mar-a-Lago in June to retrieve the materials.
At that visit, Trump’s attorney also prohibited government investigators from opening or looking inside some of the boxes that Trump kept inside one of his storage rooms, they said.
The department ultimately decided to seek court approval for a search warrant, after the FBI developed evidence of possible obstruction.
“The government developed evidence that a search limited to the storage room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at the premises,” prosecutors said.
“The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the storage room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”