President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has appealed the district court order to appoint a special master to review materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and the temporary injunction that blocks the FBI from using those seized materials in its ongoing criminal investigation.
Former President Trump’s attorneys just struck back against that DOJ motion and knocked down all of the government’s arguments in what is, essentially, a “document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control,” the Western Journal reported.
Trump’s team also hit the DOJ on its assumptive conclusions about “classified” documents, its purported concern about certain materials being made public — despite DOJ media leaks and the prospect of an eventual public trial — and its likely politically motivated efforts to transform a purely civil dispute into a criminal matter.
Trump team’s smackdown
“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” the 21-page filing stated. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”
The filing noted that the DOJ had prematurely concluded that all documents marked as “classified” were still classified when that remained to be determined, as well as that the DOJ had expressed concern over being compelled to disclose such documents to a court-appointed special master for further review.
In a sharp footnote, however, Trump’s attorneys said, “The Government is apparently not concerned with unauthorized leaks regarding the contents of the purported ‘classified records,'” in light of a recent Washington Post article,” and added, “and would presumably be prepared to share all such records publicly in any future jury trial. However, the Government advances the untenable position in its Motion that the secure review by a Court appointed and supervised special master under controlled access conditions is somehow problematic and poses a risk to national security.”
The Trump team’s filing went on to essentially assert that Biden’s DOJ had no actual role to play in this matter at all, as everything that had been seized by the FBI in its raid of Mar-a-Lago were either presidential records covered by the Presidential Records Act — a purely civil statute with no provisions for criminal prosecution — or personal items over which the government had no jurisdiction.
Further, as to any seized documents that might bear classification markings, the filing pointed to a still-controlling executive order from former President Barack Obama that authorized the president to declassify any materials for any reason at all, regardless of normal procedures, which would render such materials as presidential records under the purview of the National Archives at best and not “federal records” for which the DOJ could apply criminal statutes against.
A civil matter turned criminal
Those were just some of the several smackdowns of the Biden DOJ contained in the Trump team’s filing in regard to the DOJ’s response to Judge Aileen Cannon’s order to appoint a special master and temporarily pause the FBI’s investigation pending the court-ordered neutral review of the seized materials.
Those and other hits against the DOJ were wholly justified in light of the absurdity and overt political motivations of the entire matter, as outlined by The Federalist following Cannon’s ruling last week.
That article highlighted several “bombshells” revealed by Cannon’s order, such as that President Biden had been involved from the start by ordering the National Archives to turn material over to the FBI; that a grand jury subpoena had been issued prior to it even being known there was a dispute over records; that Trump potentially still retained executive privilege despite Biden’s effort to waive it; that the FBI had already reviewed materials it wasn’t supposed to possess, including personal and privileged materials; that the entire investigation could be based on a faulty premise; and that the DOJ had an admitted problem with leaks of its own.
This entire matter should never have come under the provenance of the DOJ and FBI as it was, from the very beginning, nothing more than a civil dispute over presidential records that appears to have been seized upon and weaponized by the Biden administration in order to attack his chief political rival.