- Donald Trump is claiming several documents from his time in the White House are his personal property.
- The DOJ filed a letter refuting his claims and saying the records belong at the National Archives.
- The FBI secluded thousands of documents during an August raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
Former President Donald Trump and the Justice Department are already at odds over the first batch of government-seized White House documents set to undergo early review by a special master — and there are still thousands of records let to be examined.
The DOJ outlined the dispute in a Thursday night letter to Judge Raymond J. Dearie, who has been tasked with overseeing a review of the more than 13,000 documents hidden by the FBI during an August raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
According to the letter, Trump is claiming that nine of the 15 documents included in the first batch to be reviewed are his personal property and should be returned to him. The government, however, disagrees and scoffed at Trump’s suggestion that the records from his time in the White House are protected by executive privilege, saying the official documents should be deposited to the National Archives.
The conflict likely signals further legal battles to come over the thousands of records yet to be reviewed in the DOJ’s probe into whether Trump mishandled official White House records following his departure from office.
Among the disputed documents in the initial bunch are materials related to six clemency requests from Trump’s time in office, according to the DOJ letter, which said the records include “supporting materials and relate to the president’s ‘power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.'”
It was not clear who made the clemency requests in question.
Trump also contested control of two documents related to his administration’s immigration initiatives, as well as an email he received while in office from someone at a military academy, the letter said.
The Justice Department cited the Presidential Records Act, which classifies all materials created or obtained while a president is in office as government property and destined for the National Archives at the conclusion of his term.
Federal lawyers also rebuked Trump’s allegation that the FBI took his personal records during the court-approved search earlier this year.
“Personal records that are not government property are devoted every day for use in criminal investigations. And the fact that more than 100 documents bearing classification markings were commingled with unclassified and even personal records is important evidence in the government’s investigation in this case,” the letter said.
The Justice Department’s Thursday letter comes one week after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to intervene in the ongoing dispute, dealing a major blow to the former president’s efforts to slow the investigation.
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