WASHINGTON D.C. (NBC) – Thursday, in a Florida courtroom, the battle over whether an independent “special master” is needed to oversee classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Former President Trump’s legal team argued that, if left unchecked, department of justice investigators could “selectively leak” parts of the investigation while the DOJ insists that delaying the investigation could compromise national security.
Thursday, the Justice Department and the Trump legal team squared off in a federal courtroom.
The judge promised a written ruling later on about whether to bring in an independent “special master” to review evidence seized during the FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate.
The Trump legal team compared the sprawling investigation involving the government’s most sensitive secrets to an overdue library book scenario and argued that without a third party review, “unchecked” Justice Department investigators could selectively “leak” aspects of their investigation.
Trump attorneys zeroed in on a photo from an earlier Justice Department filing, showing the FBI recovered top-secret material from Mar-a-Lago.
The Trump team alleges the documents were “spread across the floor for dramatic effect.”
Trump attorney Alina Habba said, “That is not the way his office looks. Anybody that knows president trump’s office, he has guests frequently there.”
The argument that visitors frequented the former president’s personal office — where several classified documents were found — could undercut his team’s claims sensitive materials were held in a “secure setting.”
The Justice Department argued that “government records were likely concealed and removed” before the FBI search and that the Trump legal team misled investigators about what it did turn over.
Trump attorneys called that claim “significantly mischaracterized” and suggested it’s normal to keep presidential records, though the law says they belong to the government.
The former president defended himself Thursday on a conservative radio show. He said, “It’s not like this was some sinister plot.”
Again, he called the investigation political while pointing to his rising poll numbers, claiming the legal troubles are actually helping him.
This all comes as President Biden is giving a primetime speech Thursday night in Philadelphia. While the White House is billing it as an official address, the president is returning to his central campaign message about the battle for the soul of the nation claiming that democracy is under attack.