Trump Lawyers Say He Designated Seized Mar-a-Lago Documents ‘As Personal Records’ — DOJ Says He Can’t Do That ‘Simply By Saying So’

 

Dan Mangan@_DANMANGAN

 
  • Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are arguing that hundreds of documents that the FBI seized from his Florida residence are “personal” because he said so.
  • But the Department of Justice says he cannot deem the documents personal “simply by saying so.”
  • Trump’s lawyers and the DOJ briefed a judge on the status of issues related to the records seized in early August from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Trump is under criminal investigation for the removal of nearly 3,000 documents from the White House.

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are arguing that hundreds of documents that the FBI seized from his Florida residence are “personal” because he said so.

But federal prosecutors say he cannot deem the records personal “simply by saying so.”

 

In a new court filing, the Department of Justice also accused Trump of “gamesmanship” by saying he will assert executive privilege over dozens of documents if a court-appointed watchdog rejects his claim that they are “personal” in nature.

The war over what Trump’s purported words mean is playing out in a federal court in Florida, where the former president’s lawyers and attorneys for the DOJ briefed a judge last week on the status of issues related to the records seized in early August from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. The legal briefs were unsealed Monday.

The DOJ is criminally investigating Trump for the removal of government records from the White House and possible obstruction of justice related to the lag in getting those documents back from him. More than a hundred documents were marked classified.

Government records are by law the property of the government and must be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration when a president leaves office.

A court-appointed watchdog, known as a special master, is reviewing the records to determine which should be barred from being examined by the DOJ as part of its probe due to possible privileges. Those include the documents being personal or subject to executive privilege.

In their filing last week, Trump’s lawyers wrote, “The Presidential Records Act authorizes a sitting President to designate records as personal records during his term in office.”

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