DOJ Slams Trump Filing Claiming 9 Mar-A-Lago Files Are His 'Personal' Property

The papers include pardon requests and immigration policy documents, which the DOJ notes were all part of his job.

The Department of Justice has fired back at Donald Trump’s claim that nine White House files seized from his Mar-a-Lago compound by the FBI are his “personal” property.

The files include two documents related to U.S. immigration policy, six requests for clemency to the then-president, and a letter to him from someone in a military academy, according to the DOJ’s letter, filed Thursday in Florida to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master appointed to review the confiscated documents.

The Justice Department dismissed the notion that any of the materials belong to Trump. It pointed out that the pardon requests, for example, “were received by plaintiff in his capacity as the official with authority to grant reprieves and pardons, not in his personal capacity.”

The DOJ letter cited the Presidential Records Act, which states that all documentary materials created or received by a president, his staff or his office in the course of official activities are government property that should go to the National Archives when a president leaves office.

Trump also claimed that four documents should be withheld from investigators because of executive privilege. They include the two immigration policy documents, which Trump’s team said were “predecisional materials,” and two documents about meetings.

The Justice Department argued that the former president can’t claim the immigration documents are both his personal records and protected by executive privilege. The claims are contradictory and he must argue one or the other, the filing said.

Dearie made a similar point about mixed and confusing claims concerning the documents in a conference call with the parties earlier this week. He pointed out that there’s “certainly an incongruity there” when Trump’s lawyers insist that some documents are protected both by executive privilege and as Trump’s personal records.

Dearie also complained on the call that Trump’s legal team hadn’t offered much substance in either case to support its claims.

The special master was appointed last month by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon at Trump’s request. He is tasked with reviewing about 11,000 pages of documents to determine if any should be shielded by attorney-client or executive privilege. Dearie’s name was submitted by Trump’s legal team.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled earlier this month that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking part of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

The dispute over the nine documents is likely the start of many more to come.

Before You Go

Popular in the Community