Trump team likely moved classified papers amid probe: US justice dept

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WASHINGTON: The US justice department said it had evidence that classified documents were deliberately concealed from the FBI when it tried to retrieve them in June from former president Donald Trump’s Florida estate, prompting its unprecedented search of his home. In a 54-page filing, prosecutors on Tuesday laid out their evidence of obstruction of justice, alleging publicly for the first time that Trump aides both falsely certified in June that Trump had returned all the government records he had stored in his home after leaving the White House in January 2021.
It also revealed that Trump lawyers “explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes” inside a storage room when FBI agents first travelled to Mar-a-Lago resort in June to retrieve the records. It released a photo of some of the records found inside Trump’s home bearing classification markings, some of which refer to clandestine human sources.
The justice department’s filings come ahead of a Thursday court hearing before US district court. It is weighing Trump’s request to appoint a special master who would conduct a privilege review of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8.
A special master is an independent third party sometimes appointed by a court in sensitive cases to review materials potentially covered by attorney-client privilege.
In Trump’s initial request to the court, his attorneys claimed that the former president wanted to protect materials that were subject to a legal doctrine known as executive privilege, which can shield some presidential communications. Legal experts said it was illogical for a former president to claim he wanted to assert executive privilege against the executive branch itself. Trump’s legal team later narrowed its request, asking for a privilege review without explicitly referring to executive privilege.



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Date: September 1, 2022