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Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers acknowledged in court filings on Monday that the former president could face criminal charges in the investigation into the U.S. government records that he kept at his Florida home at Mar-a-Lago.
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon allowed Trump to have a special master in the case, and he was given the person he requested, Judge Raymond J. Dearie. Dearie is tasked with reviewing the documents that the FBI seized during their raid on Trump’s home.
Dearie now wants Trump to disclose information about any of the material that he claims that he declassified before he claims it as his personal property, Politico reported. Trump’s legal team now wants Dearie to drop that part of his request.
“Similarly, the Draft Plan requires that the Plaintiff disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “We respectfully submit that the time and place for affidavits or declarations would be in connection with a Rule 41 motion that specifically alleges declassification as a component of its argument for return of property.”
“Otherwise, the Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order,” they added.
JUST IN: Special Master Dearie has asked Trump's team for declarations about any acftions he's taken to declassify material. Trump's team says i n a filing tonight that it is resisting that request — because it could be a defense to any criminal cahrges. https://t.co/Wrl47hrygS pic.twitter.com/fCeF7PnJKv
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 19, 2022
The criminal investigation comes after Trump was repeatedly warned by lawyers since late 2021 that he needed to return U.S. government records that were being requested by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Before Trump’s term ended, Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, was named Trump’s representative to handle matters with the National Archives along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, The New York Times reported.
Once the National Archives realized that some of Trump’s White House records were missing, they reportedly contacted Philbin for help getting them back.
Philbin reportedly tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, but he was reportedly blocked by Trump.
“It’s not theirs, it’s mine,” Trump reportedly told several of his advisers.
The New York Times reported Monday evening that former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann warned Trump late last year that he could face serious legal repercussions if he did not return the U.S. government records that he took with him after he left office.
Multiple sources told The New York Times that Herschmann tried to get the former president to understand the gravity of the situation, warning that he could face criminal investigations if he did not return the documents.
Trump handed over 15 boxes, which included scores of classified documents, to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January following Herschmann’s warning.
However, Trump did not hand over all the records that he was required to return, and he was later visited by federal officials in June who forced him to turn over numerous other classified documents.
Federal agents then raided Trump’s Florida home at Mar-a-Lago in August and found more classified documents in his personal residence, the Department of Justice said.
The report said that when Herschmann met with Trump in 2021 he was not working for or with the former president and that Trump was “noncommittal about his plans for returning the documents” after the meeting.