In a motion to a federal court, the Department of Justice said it opposes efforts to appoint a special master to oversee the documents taken from President Donald Trump’s residence earlier this month.
The DOJ said that documents were “concealed and removed” from a storage room and that efforts were “likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
As part of its standard procedure following searches, a filter team sorted documents relevant to the investigation while removing those where attorney-client privilege could be invoked. The filter team involves a different group of agents who are not involved in the probe.
The DOJ’s response also claimed that Trump does not have legal standing over the presidential records, saying that those records do not belong to Trump. Prosecutors also say that the “appointment of a special master is unnecessary and would significantly harm important governmental interests, including national security interests. Appointment of a special master is disfavored in a case such as this.”
The DOJ said that 28 boxes that contained confidential information were taken from Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. Some of the information was considered top secret.
Trump has claimed that he declassified the documents before he left office.
“Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump wrote. “Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request. They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago.”
A judge is expected to rule in the coming days whether to appoint a special master to filter documents taken by investigators. Doing so could slow down the DOJ’s investigation of whether Trump and his associates violated U.S. laws pertaining to the storage of confidential records.