Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers might be going for the legal jugular in the ongoing fight between the Biden Justice Department and the former president over classified information seized from his Mar-a-Lago home on Aug. 8.
It’s been over a month, and while some information appears to be classified—the government over-classifies everything—the critical legal area that’s glossed over is that Trump probably was well within his legal rights to possess them. Some documents taken by FBI agents were Time magazine covers, while others were empty folders. The president has near-absolute authority to declassify any record, a power affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1988.
Still, the Trump legal team did file a motion for a special master to review the documents to which the DOJ objected, citing a national security risk. Judge Aileen Cannon issued an injunction against any further analysis by the FBI of the papers and granted the Trump team’s motion for a special master. The latest round of lawfare revolves around candidates for that position, for which there is a Grand Canyon-sized chasm between the government and Trump’s lawyers on who is acceptable.
The latest motion filed by Trump’s legal team seeks to further block the Justice Department from reviewing the documents. It also brought the heat in their 21-page filing that torched the legal justification for the FBI’s raid and the seizure of documents from the property (via The Guardian):
Lawyers for Donald Trump asked a federal judge on Monday to deny the justice department’s request to regain access to some documents the FBI seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort and restart the criminal investigation into his unauthorized retention of government documents.
The response from the Trump legal team reiterated that it wanted a so-called special master to review all of the seized materials, asking the judge to uphold her earlier order barring prosecutors from using the documents in a criminal investigation until the process was complete.
But in the 21-page filing, Trump’s lawyers interpreted the Presidential Records Act in sometimes unusual ways, and accused the justice department of criminalizing what they considered a dispute between Trump and the National Archives about how documents should be handled.
“In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control,” the response from the Trump legal team said, “the government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th president of his own presidential and personal records.”
Mike Davis, a former law clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch, whose legal analysis we’ve featured prominently here, added that this filing “puts the dagger through the heart of the Biden DOJ's bogus, political charade.”
President Trump's legal team filed an excellent legal brief, calling out the Biden Justice Department's political charade.— ???? Mike Davis ???? (@mrddmia) September 12, 2022
Team Trump is firing on all cylinders.
Trump clearly has the winning legal arguments.
This is going to backfire--badly--on Biden.https://t.co/w3rqw7JeW1
The Trump legal team does a great job of explaining that the President of the United States has the absolute constitutional (and statutory and regulatory) power to declassify anything he wants: pic.twitter.com/M5qhC4CwLL— ???? Mike Davis ???? (@mrddmia) September 12, 2022
The Trump legal team puts the dagger through the heart of the Biden DOJ's bogus, political charade.— ???? Mike Davis ???? (@mrddmia) September 12, 2022
President Trump had the absolute constitutional and statutory right to take and maintain all of his records at Mar-A-Lago, classified or declassified.
Another hoax. pic.twitter.com/W4NvXJGYUf
Bottom line, he declared this whole circus surrounding the raid “another hoax.”
If the Justice Department was trying to rehabilitate its image, it failed spectacularly—and it might have imbrued the institution for good, given that this is yet another wild goose chase that has yet to find any damning information on the ex-president.
After a month, there is not a single piece of evidence or document that screams treason or that the ex-president committed any felonious activity with these records. At its core, the Justice Department thought it was necessary to raid the home of a former president under the auspices of the Presidential Records Act, which isn’t a criminal statute. We all see the real intention: it was to warn Trump not to run again. Also, the documents remained at Mar-a-Lago over the summer because the Justice Department ordered them in their June 8 letter. Many stories about the raid center on Trump attorneys, and those from the National Archives talk about missing documents and the Trump team’s complete and total cooperation in analyzing them for their return.
Also, still no legitimate confirmation about the nuclear secrets that were supposedly strewn about the home. What we know is that if nuclear secrets were at Mar-a-Lago, they were about other nations’ capabilities, not ours, which is something you could find on Wikipedia. And remember, this was from unnamed sources from inside the DOJ, so the mailroom staff, right?