A federal judge has reportedly declined to hold former President Donald Trump in contempt of court for not guaranteeing that he returned all the classified documents he’d taken from the White House, according to CNN and several other outlets.
Several of Trump’s lawyers spent around 90 minutes inside Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s chambers in a closed-door hearing Friday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Instead of punishing the former president, Howell reportedly encouraged the Justice Department to work together with Trump’s team to bring the matter to a resolution, as ABC News was first to report.
A major sticking point between the parties is the Trump side’s unwillingness to formally declare in writing that all records have been turned over, multiple outlets said.
Trump’s team asserts that he is cooperating.
But the former president has reportedly frustrated Justice Department officials in the months since a group of FBI agents swarmed his Mar-a-Lago golf resort, seizing presidential records from his single term that were supposed to be in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration. The August search yielded more than 100 classified documents, along with thousands of other government files, court records said.
The question of whether more documents are stashed around Trump’s Florida resort ― or elsewhere ― has lingered.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Trump himself hired a team of people to search four properties for possible classified documents. The team turned up at least two classified items, according to The Washington Post.
On Friday, Trump’s lawyers did not respond to questions from press on the scene who noticed their presence at the courthouse. A coalition of news outlets reportedly requested access to the meeting with Howell but were denied access.