Jack Smith insists 'no bad faith' after admitting investigators mishandled evidence during Mar-a-Lago raid

 June 26, 2024

Earlier this month, former President Donald Trump called for the classified documents indictment against him to be dismissed because of alleged violations of due process and the spoliation of evidence that was mishandled when seized during the August 2022 FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence in South Florida.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has now responded with claims that investigators did not act in "bad faith" in the admitted mishandling of seized evidence and that the mishandling of evidence did not violate Trump's due process rights, Breitbart reported.

Those assertions came in an at-times unprofessional filing from a senior member of the special counsel's team, Jay Bratt, that took several snarky swipes at Trump.

Prosecutors admit seized evidence was mishandled, props used for photos

In early May, Fox News reported that Special Counsel Smith's team admitted in a filing that investigators had mishandled some of the evidence seized from Mar-a-Lago and had not placed some documents back into the boxes they were pulled from in the same order they initially were in.

The federal prosecutors further acknowledged that the admission was "inconsistent" with their prior attestations that all of the documents had been put back in the boxes "in their original, intact form as seized."

The Daily Caller also reported at the time that prosecutors admitted that some of the infamous photos of alleged classified documents seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence had been staged with props, as false "cover sheets" bearing "classified" and "top secret" markings had been produced by the FBI and used as "placeholders" where allegedly classified documents were purportedly found.

Trump says indictment should be dismissed and seized evidence suppressed

In light of those admissions, that seized documents had been mishandled and not placed back in the boxes they came from in the same order as well as that false cover sheets were used as props for photos shared with the media, Trump's attorneys filed on June 10 a motion to dismiss the indictment based on "spoliation of evidence in violation of due process."

That motion called upon the court "to suppress all evidence seized in connection with the August 2022 raid at Mar-a-Lago, based on the FBI’s destruction of important exculpatory evidence relating to the locations of the allegedly classified documents at issue."

"The government was more interested in staging -- and leaking -- manipulated photographs to the press than preserving key exculpatory evidence that has now been lost forever," the motion stated and further accused the special counsel's office of knowingly refusing to disclose that pertinent information for more than a year despite relevant discovery orders that should have prompted an earlier disclosure.

Special Counsel's Office claims "no bad faith" in mishandling of seized evidence

On Monday, Special Counsel Smith's office responded to Trump's motion with a 33-page filing from Jay Bratt that asserted there were no known precedents that "found that a defendant’s due process rights were violated by the government’s loss or destruction of evidence."

"Trump personally chose to keep documents containing some of the nation’s most highly guarded secrets in cardboard boxes along with a collection of other personally chosen keepsakes of various sizes and shapes from his presidency -- newspapers, thank you notes, Christmas ornaments, magazines, clothing, and photographs of himself and others," the filing stated. "At the end of his presidency, he took his cluttered collection of keepsakes to Mar-a-Lago, his personal residence and social club, where the boxes traveled from one readily accessible location to another -- a public ballroom, an office space, a bathroom, and a basement storage room."

"Against this backdrop of the haphazard manner in which Trump chose to maintain his boxes, he now claims that the precise order of the items within the boxes when they left the White House was critical to his defense, and, what’s more, that FBI agents executing the search warrant in August 2022 should have known that," the filing continued. "But neither the law nor the facts provide any basis whatsoever for the Court to find bad faith or spoliation in the unsurprising reality that the order of some of the items may have shifted since then."

"To the contrary," Bratt insisted, "the FBI agents who conducted the search did so professionally, thoroughly, and carefully under challenging circumstances, particularly given the cluttered state of the boxes and the substantial volume of highly classified documents Trump had retained."

The prosecutor further argued that despite the internal arrangement of boxes being different, the "box-to-box integrity" of documents and other items remained unchanged, and that "Nothing has been lost, much less destroyed, and there has been no bad faith." As such, Bratt concluded, "The Court should see Trump’s newly invented explanations and his motion for what they are -- his latest unfounded accusations against law enforcement professionals doing their jobs. The Court should deny the motion because it is profoundly flawed on the law as well as incomplete and misleading on the facts."

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