On Friday, a federal judge declined a request from the Justice Department to hold certain members of former President Donald Trump’s legal team, or the ex-president himself, in contempt of court after they allegedly did not relinquish classified documents from his White House tenure, multiple reports say.
D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ordered Trump’s lawyers and the DOJ to resolve the dispute after a closed-door hearing lasting over an hour on Friday, according to ABC News.
The DOJ sought the charge against Trump and his lawyers, alleging noncompliance with a subpoena demanding that sensitive material be returned to the federal government.
“The President and his counsel will continue to be transparent and cooperative, even in the face of the highly weaponized and corrupt witch-hunt from the Department of ‘Justice,’” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement Friday.
“If the Department of ‘Justice’ can go after President Trump, they will surely come after any American who they disagree with,” he added. “President Trump is the only one who stands in the way of the un-American weaponization of law enforcement.”
Trump’s lawyers have recently worked to round up any classified documents that may be outstanding, reports say. At least two documents marked as classified were found by Trump’s team while searching a storage facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., late last month. Those papers were later returned to the FBI.
However, Trump’s lawyers continue to disagree with the DOJ about the refusal of the former president’s legal team to designate a custodian of records, attesting that all classified materials have been returned to the National Archives, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The DOJ is investigating whether Trump broke the law after he retained U.S. government records, some marked as classified and top secret, after leaving office. The government has reportedly tracked down hundreds of classified documents that Trump retained after his presidency ended in January 2021.