In a world with many shades of gray, it is sometimes difficult to determine what is black and what is white, who is a hero and who is a villain, especially when they both purport to be on the same team.
The Justice Department is seeking to justify the FBI’s recent raid on former President Donald Trump’s home, Mar-a-Largo, by reporting that more than 700 pages of classified materials were among the 15 boxes of records Trump turned over to the National Archives office in January.
That claim was used to secure approval for an unprecedented warrant to send 30 FBI agents to raid Trump’s home, break into his safe and take an assortment of items, yet to be disclosed in an inventory list.
Also yet to be disclosed is the affidavit citing the probable cause justifying the warrant for the search.
MSM outlets have run with the headlines: Trump had classified documents or Trump was in possession of Top Secret documents. Some have suggested that Trump had nuclear-weapons related documents and intended to share those with Russian officials. The stories are wild and salacious and prompt clicks and views.
But what is the truth? Trump maintains that all documents in his possession were properly declassified. Federal code states that the president can declassify any document at any time. Further, in the fall of 2020, Trump publicly announced that he declassified documents and posted the update on Twitter.
The fact that Trump had the right to declassify documents is undisputed. The fact that Trump cooperated with the National Archives office to address their concerns is well documented. But what is the truth?
According to a report from The Hill, The DOJ claims that “Trump’s legal team spent months attempting to block the FBI and the intelligence community from reviewing the documents to assess the potential national security fallout.” The DOJ accuses Trump of obstruction of justice.
Trump claims the records were appropriately kept and that he had no legal obligation to cooperate with the FBI, whose previous interactions with Trump were shown to be biased and marked by misconduct.
Angered by how the DOJ and FBI have mistreated and maligned him, Trump has decided to fight back. On Monday, his legal team filed a motion to sue the DOJ, claiming “the FBI and DOJ have long treated President Donald J. Trump unfairly.”
The motion continues: “The FBI and DOJ have demonstrated a willingness to treat President Trump differently than any other citizen.”
Notably, former President Barack Obama has more than three million official documents in his possessions. Hillary Clinton was said to have thousands of classified documents improperly stored on unsecured computers in her possession. No charges were filed in those cases.
Trump is pressing for the appointment of a “Special Master” to review the situation and resolve the high-profile case that is dividing the country.
According to the Epoch Times, Christopher Schroeder, an assistant attorney general appointed by President Joe Biden, reportedly told Biden it was “unprecedented for a former President to assert executive privilege against an incumbent President to prevent the latter from obtaining from NARA Presidential records belonging to the Federal Government where such records contain information that is needed for the conduct of current business of the incumbent President’s office and that is not otherwise available.”
Though it was not noted how or why the documents in Trump’s home were “needed for the conduct of current business of the [President],” Biden agreed and ordered the FBI to proceed with reviewing documents in the possession of the National Archives office.
According to Debra Steidel Wall, acting archivist of the United States, the FBI’s letter to the National Archives office, demanding access to the 15 boxes of materials transferred from Trump’s home in January read:
“Access to the materials is not only necessary for purposes of our ongoing criminal investigation, but the Executive Branch must also conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take any necessary remedial steps.”
According to The Hill, “the letter offers new insights into the volume of documents that may have been stored at Mar-a-Lago” and the length of time the FBI was investigating the matter.
Wall said of the FBI request: “The question in this case is not a close one. The Executive Branch here is seeking access to records belonging to, and in the custody of, the Federal Government itself.”
Judge Bruce W. Reinhart is expected to make a ruling on this case later this week.
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