Trump having top secret documents at his home ‘not cause for alarm’

US

Lawyers for former US president Donald Trump have tried to downplay the federal government’s discovery of highly classified records inside his Florida mansion.

It comes a day after a photo was released showing top secret documents uncovered in an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

On Thursday, at 1pm local time, Mr Trump’s legal team will try to convince federal judge Aileen Cannon, sitting in a West Palm Beach court, to appoint a “special master” to review the seized documents.

This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and redacted by in part by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The Justice Department says it has uncovered efforts to obstruct its investigation into the discovery of classified records at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate. (Department of Justice via AP)
Image:
The documents found by the FBI spread out on the floor of the Mar-a-Lago mansion

They were found by the FBI during a raid on the estate on 8 August as part of an investigation into whether Mr Trump took classified records from the White House.

Mr Trump’s lawyers, in a filing to the court, said: “Simply put, the notion that presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm.”

They also attacked the Justice Department for carrying out the search, saying that Mr Trump was involved in a “give-and-take” with the US National Archives over the return of presidential records at the time that was “standard”.

The filing further claims that Mr Trump allowed FBI agents to “come to his home and provide security advice”.

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As well as releasing the photo of several classified documents, some of which are marked as “top secret//sci”, spread out on the floor, the US Justice Department claims it uncovered efforts to obstruct its investigation into the discovery of classified documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

One of the top secret documents found at Mar-a-Largo.
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One of the top secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago

A filing by the department states that “government records were likely concealed or removed” from a storage room even after Mr Trump’s representatives had told officials they had thoroughly searched the property.

The investigation into obstruction does not necessarily mean that Mr Trump or anyone else will face charges, but it could pose the most direct legal threat to the ex-president and those who help him.

Senior Republicans were at first highly critical of the FBI search of Mr Trump’s estate. Since new details emerged they have been quieter.

FILE - An aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen near dusk on Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. newly unsealed FBI document about the investigation at Mar-a-Lago not only offers new details about the probe but also reveals clues about the arguments his legal team intends to make. The May 25 letter from one of his lawyers attached as an exhibit to the affidavit advances a broad view of executive power, asserting that the commander-in-chief has absolute authority to declassify whatever he wants and that the primary law governing the handling of classified information applies to other government officials but not the president. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
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An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Pic: AP

But the raid is said to have resulted in a highly charged political atmosphere, with NBC News reporting of the threat of political violence in the upcoming mid-term elections, because of the backlash from Mr Trump’s supporters.

Read more: If you thought the first coming of Trump was crazy enough – wait for the sequel

The “special master” the Trump team wants the court to approve would be an independent third party, sometimes appointed in sensitive cases to review materials potentially covered by attorney-client privilege to ensure investigators do not improperly view them.

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