Trump Lawyers Make No Attempt To Argue Seized Documents Were Declassified

Lawyers for Donald Trump made no reference to the claim the former president had declassified the White House documents recovered at his Mar-a-Lago home in their latest court filings.

Trump's counsel submitted a 19-page written legal argument to a Southern Florida court with a district judge set to decide whether a special master can be brought in to review the materials seized by the FBI from the former president's home on August 8.

In their court filing, Trump's lawyers acknowledge that sensitive materials from Mar-a-Lago may have been previously returned to the National Archives in January, but downplayed their discovery.

"The purported justification for the initiation of this criminal probe was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained within the 15 boxes of Presidential records," Trump's attorneys wrote.

"But this 'discovery' was to be fully anticipated given the very nature of Presidential records. Simply put, the notion that Presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm."

trump declassified documents
Donald Trump speaks on May 28, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. Trump's lawyers did not try to suggest that the former president had declassified any of the material seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort in their latest court filings.

The lawyers do not make any reference to the suggestion that Trump was free to remove the documents from the White House and keep them at his Florida home after he left office in January 2021 because he had declassified the materials.

Trump repeated the disputed claim in a Truth Social media post on Wednesday while reacting to the Department of Justice releasing an image of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in August, including some which were marked "top secret," in their filings opposing the need for a special master.

"Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see," Trump wrote. "Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!"

Trump's lawyers also criticized how the DoJ had "gratuitously" included a photograph of what they describe as "allegedly classified materials, pulled from a container and spread across the floor for dramatic effect."

In their court filing on Tuesday, the DoJ noted that when FBI agents went to recover boxes of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago in June, Trump's counsel gave no indication that the documents had been declassified or "asserted any claim of executive privilege." The DoJ said the lawyers "offered no explanation" as to why the former president was holding onto the materials.

The DoJ also alleged Trump's counsel "explicitly prohibited" FBI agents from looking inside a storage room at Mar-a-Lago resort in June after being subpoenaed to hand over sensitive material, and then claimed no more documents were being kept at the Florida resort beyond the 37 boxes which were handed over.

When federal agents carried out the August search of the Florida resort, they recovered a further 76 documents from the storage room, as well as classified materials kept within Trump's desk alongside his passports.

Prosecutors allege government records were "likely concealed and removed" from Trump's Florida home in order to "obstruct" the federal investigation.

"That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the 'diligent search' that the former President's counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter," prosecutors said.

Trump's counsel has been contacted for comment.