Washington: Former US President Donald Trump opposes the Biden administration’s request to withhold purportedly classified information seized during an FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago from review by a so-called special master, according to court documents filed Monday.
The FBI last month raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and seized numerous items, including empty folders labeled classified, as part of a probe into possible violations of sensitive materials handling protocols. Trump has denied wrongdoing and characterized the investigation as a misuse of the US justice system against him.
The US government as part of a court battle following the raid requested that the purportedly classified materials be separated from other materials set to be reviewed by a neutral special master.
“The Government generally points to the alleged urgent need to conduct a risk assessment of possible unauthorized disclosure of purported ‘classified records.’ But there is no indication any purported ‘classified records’ were disclosed to anyone,” the court filings said. “Indeed, it appears such ‘classified records,’ along with the other seized materials, were principally located in storage boxes in a locked room at Mar-a-Lago… which to this day is monitored by the United States Secret Service.”
The filing aligns with previous statements by Trump insisting that no classified materials were improperly stored at Mar-a-Lago. Moreover, Trump’s legal team in the filing contends that the issue could have been resolved without a raid by federal law enforcement.
The storage of materials and classified records of former presidents is governed exclusively by the Presidential Records Act, which stipulates that disputes over the disposition of records should be settled between the president and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the filing said.
At best, the government might be able to establish certain records should be returned to NARA, the filing noted.
The government’s request to separate the purportedly sensitive materials from other evidence seized during the FBI raid presupposes their sensitivity, according to the filing.
The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the court handling the dispute, should deny the government’s motion to separate the materials, the filing said. Limiting the scope of the special master’s review would erode public trust and the perception of fairness in the case, the filing added.