Justice Department opposes Trump’s request to view classified documents at Mar-a-Lago

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The Justice Department opposes former President Donald Trump’s request to view and discuss with his lawyers classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence, “the very location at which he is charged with willfully retaining the documents charged in this case,” according to a new court filing. 

The same night federal prosecutors slapped additional charges on Trump over his handling of classified documents, federal prosecutors filed a renewed motion for a protective order, urging the judge to allow Trump and his attorneys to view and discuss documents only in a secure facility, which is known as a SCIF. 

The superseding indictment prosecutors filed Thursday night lists three new counts against the former president: altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object; corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object; and an additional charge of willful retention of national defense information.

“Defendant Trump’s counsel objects to the provisions in the proposed protective order that require them to discuss classified information with their client only in a SCIF,” federal prosecutors said in the renewed protective order filing. “They expressed concerns regarding the inconvenience posed by this limitation and requested that defendant Trump be permitted to discuss classified information with his counsel in his office at Mar-a-Lago, and possibly Bedminster. The government is not aware of any case in which a defendant has been permitted to discuss classified information in a private residence, and such exceptional treatment would not be consistent with the law.” 

The government went on to say in the filing that “Defendant Trump’s personal residences and offices are not lawful locations for the discussion of classified information, any more than they would be for any private citizen.”

“Since the conclusion of defendant Trump’s presidency, neither the Mar-a-Lago club nor the Bedminster club has been an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display or discussion of classified information,” the filing reads. “There is no basis for the defendant’s request that he be given the extraordinary authority to discuss classified information at his residence, and it is particularly striking that he seeks permission to do so in the very location at which he is charged with willfully retaining the documents charged in this case.” 

The filing also says Trump’s co-defendant, Walt Nauta, wants full access to classified discovery, but Nauta is not charged with violating the law by unlawfully retaining documents related to national defense, while Trump is. The government argues Nauta, a private citizen, has no need to view classified information. 

“While defendant Trump is charged with violating [code section] by unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense, defendant Nauta is not,” the government says in the filing. “Defendant Trump’s counsel may need to discuss classified documents with defendant Trump to formulate their defense strategy.”

In Thursday night’s superseding indictment, the government names a third co-defendant, Mar-a-Lago worker Carlos De Oliveira. Prosecutors allege De Oliveira was one of the aides who helped move boxes for Trump, and that he, along with Trump and Nauta, instructed an an unnamed employee to delete security camera footage that was subject to a grand jury subpoena. 

Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty to the initial charges in the documents case. De Oliveira’s attorney declined to comment Thursday. 

Steven Cheung, spokesman for the Trump campaign, claimed the new counts are part of an effort to damage Trump as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination and “nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their Department of Justice to harass President Trump and those around him.”

— Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.



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