The saga of Trump vs. the FBI, CIA and DOJ seems to be unending. From the day he announced his candidacy, it has been investigation after investigation. Most view the spectacle as hyperpartisan and are unhappy that the Russiagate, Mueller, January 6 and impeachment initiatives have cost taxpayers more than $50 million.
Currently, the former president is fighting the FBI over their handling of sensitive documents taken in a surprise 31-agent raid on his home Mara-a-Lago in Florida on August 8. Trump calls the raid an “unprecedented” “witch hunt” and claims the documents in question were declassified before he left office in 2021. The FBI asserts Trump is guilty of obstructing justice and illegally possessing top secret documents.
Late last week, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon approved the Trump legal team’s request for a special master to review documents associated with the case. Cannon also instructed the DOJ to halt its investigation pending the appointment of the special master.
The DOJ has signaled they will appeal the ruling and submitted a motion to “continue its review of classified documents seized by the FBI,” according to a report by Fox News.
According to the outlet, Trump’s legal team strongly opposes the Justice Department’s motion, calling their investigation “unprecedented and misguided.” Trump attorneys also note that the DOJ has yet to show that the documents in question were classified.
On this point, on Monday a Trump spokesperson claimed the DOJ seeks to “limit the scope of any review of its investigative conduct and presuppose the outcome, at least in regard to what it deems are ‘classified records.'”
In their grievance filing, the Trump legal team’s statement read:
“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided. In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”
Trump’s legal team argued that their request for a stay in the investigation and the appointment of a special master “is a sensible preliminary step towards restoring order from chaos. The Government should therefore not be permitted to skip the process and proceed straight to a preordained conclusion.”
Trump’s legal team argues that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) grants every president “extraordinary discretion to categorize all his or her records as either Presidential or personal records, and established case law provides for very limited judicial oversight over such categorization.”
Trump’s attorneys also assert that “the PRA further contains no provision authorizing or allowing for any criminal enforcement,” which puts into question the extraordinary raid, seizure of documents and personal items, and comments made by the FBI since the August 8 raid.
Claiming protection under the PRA, Trump’s legal team argued that “disputes regarding the disposition of any Presidential record are to be resolved between such President and the National Archives and Records Administration (‘NARA’).”
Trump’s legal team concluded that, therefore, the government “at best,” may be able to establish that certain presidential records “should be returned to NARA.”
Trump’s filing concludes:
“Moreover, under the PRA, President Trump has … an absolute right to access (or have his designee access) those Presidential records. These rights accord President Trump a sufficient interest in all of the seized materials. Indeed … President Trump’s categorization of records during his term was within his sole discretion.”
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