Former President Donald Trump’s legal team blasted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI for scattering documents seized from Mar-a-Lago across the floor “for dramatic effect” in its latest court filing on Wednesday.
“Even yesterday, the Government’s Response gratuitously included a photograph of allegedly classified materials, pulled from a container and spread across the floor for dramatic effect,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
Wednesday’s filing by Trump’s attorneys came in response to the DOJ’s Tuesday filing opposing Trump’s request for a special master to conduct an independent review of the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago in early August.
Trump’s legal team blasted the government’s opposition motion, calling it an “extraordinary document” that suggested “the DOJ, and the DOJ alone, should be entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating its unjustified pursuit of criminalizing a former President’s possession of personal and Presidential records in a secure setting.”
“Now, the Government twists the framework of responding to a motion for a Special Master into an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial consideration, presently or in the future, of any aspect of its unprecedented behavior in this investigation,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
In the DOJ filing, counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said the government found “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.”
The DOJ’s response to Trump’s request for a special master also included photos of documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago scattered across the floor, leading some to assume that is how Trump kept the documents.
“There seems to be confusion as to the ‘picture’ where documents were sloppily thrown on the floor and then released photographically for the world to see, as if that’s what the FBI found when they broke into my home,” Trump posted on Truth Social hours before his legal team submitted its latest filing. He continued:
Wrong! They took them out of cartons and spread them around on the carpet, making it look like a big ‘find’ for them. They dropped them, not me – Very deceiving…And remember, we could have NO representative, including lawyers, present during the Raid. They were told to wait outside.
Trump’s attorneys also criticized the federal government’s justification for its criminal inquiry into the former president. Trump attorneys said:
The purported justification for the initiation of this criminal probe was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained within the 15 boxes of Presidential records. But this ‘discovery’ was to be fully anticipated given the very nature of Presidential records. Simply put, the notion that Presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm.
Although the DOJ argued a special master is no longer necessary because its “filter team” had already conducted a preliminary review of the seized documents, Trump’s legal team blasted the DOJ’s Privilege Review Team for not contacting them and argued the review was “wholly deficient.”
Trump’s attorneys argued that the federal government “expeditiously ‘facilitated’” its preliminary review of the documents Trump requested an independent review of, even after Judge Aileen M. Cannon announced her “preliminary intent to appoint a special master.”
Trump’s attorneys wrote:
Second, the Government now has the temerity to argue that any involvement by a Special Master will “interfere” with the now ongoing Intelligence Community review of the materials. Never has an argument against “interference” better underscored the need for judicial involvement. All of this in the context of a unilateral filter team operation that to-date has never made any contact with counsel for the Movant, another historic first for DOJ.
Trump’s legal team also cautioned that the DOJ would leak parts of its investigation to the media. “Left unchecked, the DOJ will impugn, leak, and publicize selective aspects of their investigation with no recourse for Movant but to somehow trust the self-restraint of currently unchecked investigators,” wrote Trump’s attorneys.
Judge Cannon will hold a hearing on Trump’s request for a special master on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. EST.