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DOJ Claims Trump Team Likely Tried To Conceal Classified Docs At Mar-a-Lago

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Department of Justice alleged in a new court filing that prosecutors obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence after allegedly acquiring evidence that Team Trump may try to conceal classified documents.

“The 36-page filing was the department’s most detailed account yet of its evidence of obstruction of justice, raising concerns that Trump and his attorneys sought to mislead investigators about the sincerity and thoroughness of their effort to identify and return highly sensitive records to the government,” Politico reported.

“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,” DOJ counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt wrote in the filing.

“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” he added.

“Any Presidential records seized pursuant to the search warrant belong to the United States, not to the former President,” Bratt argued.

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“The former President cites no case — and the government is aware of none — in which executive privilege has been successfully invoked to prohibit the sharing of documents within the Executive Branch,” Bratt wrote.

Last week, U.S. District Judge from the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen M. Cannon announced her preliminary intent to appoint a special master, as requested by the attorneys for Trump, to review documents that the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago.

Cannon said the decision was made based on submissions from the former president’s attorneys and “the exceptional circumstances presented,” Fox News reported.

A hearing is set for Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump’s team was ordered to file a response by Wednesday (8/31).

“District Court Judge Aileen Cannon in the Southern District of Florida ordered Trump’s lawyers to elaborate on their arguments for why the court has the ability to step in at this time, explain what exactly Trump is asking for and whether the Justice Department has been served with Trump’s special master motion,” CNN previously reported.

“Cannon also asked Trump’s team to weigh in on any effect the request might have on a separate review conducted by a magistrate judge into whether any portions of the still-sealed FBI affidavit laying out probable cause for the search can be released,” the report added.

Meanwhile, U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart, the judge who approved the FBI’s search warrant, rejected an argument from the Department of Justice last week and admitted the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago was “unprecedented.”

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In a filing, Reinhart rejected the Justice Department’s argument to keep the affidavit “sealed,” citing the “intense public and historical interest.”

Reinhart wrote that he rejects “the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”

“The Government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the Affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases,” Reinhart wrote. “I do not need to reach the question of whether, in some other case, these concerns could justify denying public access; they very well might.”

He added: “Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”

“Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that by the deadline, the Government shall file under seal a submission addressing possible redactions and providing any additional evidence or legal argument that the Government believes relevant to the pending Motions to Unseal,” the motion states.

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