New Trump Filing Doesn’t Mention Declassification, Obstruction Claims

  • Trump’s latest filing in his bid to get a special master makes no mention of his claim that he broadly declassified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
  • It also doesn’t address the DOJ’s revelation that it has evidence of “likely” efforts to obstruct its investigation into Trump.
  • Politico reported that earlier Wednesday, Trump also appeared to undermine a June 3 letter that his own lawyer signed saying all classified materials had been returned to the DOJ.

Former President Donald Trump’s latest salvo in his legal battle to get a court-appointed “special master” to review materials seized in this month’s Mar-a-Lago raid was widely panned as another “PR filing” after it dropped Wednesday.

But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the filing was what wasn’t in it: any mention of Trump’s weeks-long defense that he had broadly declassified all the documents seized in the Mar-a-Lago search, or his claim that the FBI may have “planted” evidence at his home.

The document also did not touch on the most damning allegation that the Justice Department made this week: That it had obtained evidence of “likely” efforts to obstruct its ongoing investigation into Trump’s handling of national security information.

These were significant omissions in a document that otherwise read to former prosecutors like a press release rather than a serious court filing. The former president’s lawyers aired claims of political bias; alluded to Trump’s possible 2024 run; and made vague legal arguments that one national security lawyer described as “garbage” and “gibberish.”

Trump’s defense in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search has largely revolved around his claim that he had declassified the materials seized from his home. That’s despite the fact that the three federal laws he’s being investigated for violating don’t depend on the classification level of government records, and 18 former Trump administration aides told CNN they had no knowledge of any standing declassification order.

The Justice Department also noted in a Tuesday night filing that Trump’s lawyers made no assertion of executive privilege and did not raise any issues around classification in conversations they had with US officials in the months leading up to the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.

Trump has also accused the FBI of “planting” evidence at Mar-a-Lago, and while his lawyers made vague allegations of bias against the DOJ and the FBI, they did not mention his and his allies’ accusation that evidence was planted at the former president’s Florida residence. 

And Politico highlighted that Trump earlier Wednesday appeared to undermine a June 3 letter that his representative signed stating that all classified government materials had been returned pursuant to a grand jury subpoena. In a Truth Social post, the former president, referencing a photo the DOJ had released the day before, acknowledged that highly classified documents the FBI recovered in its August 8 search were found stored in “cartons” in his Mar-a-Lago office.

The revelation added a new layer to the Justice Department’s account in its Tuesday filing of investigators’ suspicions that they had been misled by the June 3 letter and suspected sensitive documents and government records were still at Mar-a-Lago.

Lawyers for Trump and the Justice Department are scheduled to appear in federal court in Florida on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, where Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who was confirmed to the bench in 2020, will hear arguments about whether to grant Trump’s request for a special master.

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