Lawyers for former President Donald Trump said on Monday they oppose the U.S. Justice Department’s request to continue reviewing classified documents seized by the FBI at his Florida estate last month in an ongoing criminal investigation.
In a court filing, his attorneys also asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to order an independent arbitrator, called a special executor, to include the roughly 100 documents marked “classified” in its review of the more than 11,000 records recovered on Aug. 8 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
Trump is under investigation for withholding government records, some of which were marked as highly classified, at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office in January 2021. The government is also investigating possible obstruction of the investigation.
“In what is at its heart a document storage dispute that has gotten out of hand, the administration wrongly seeks to criminalize the 45th president’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
“Therefore, the government should not be allowed to bypass the process and proceed directly to a prearranged conclusion,” they added.
The confrontation between the Department of Justice and Trump over how to treat classified material puts Cannon in the dilemma of making a decision.
If it decides the Justice Department can no longer rely on the classified material for its criminal investigation or insists on letting the special executor review it, prosecutors have threatened to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.
The investigation of the documents is one of several federal and state investigations Trump is facing over his time as president and his private dealings.
Trump has suggested that he could run for president again in 2024, but has not made any commitments.