Lawyers for former President Donald Trump made an extraordinary move this week, asking Congress members to intervene in the ongoing dispute over classified documents that were found at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
In petitioning Congress on the matter, the lawyers said the Department of Justice ultimately misled both the public and the court system over how the sensitive documents ended up being at Trump’s Florida estate.
The letter was sent to Mike Turner, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the “Gang of Eight,” composed of the leaders of both chambers of Congress. It was sent by Timothy Parlatore, the lead attorney in the case.
It said that the raid that the FBI conducted last August at Mar-a-Lago was not only unnecessary, it also shielded Congress from receiving alerts to a security system from the National Archives and Records Administration that was lax.
The system resulted in members of NARA boxing up the classified documents along with mementos, and then shipping them to Mar-a-Lago without any regard to how the nation’s secrets would be protected.
In the letter, Trump’s lawyers wrote:
“The solution to these issues is not a misguided, politically infected, and severely botched criminal investigation, but rather a legislative solution. DOJ should be ordered to stand down, and the intelligence community should instead conduct an appropriate investigation and provide a full report to this Committee, as well as your counterparts in the Senate.”
Trump’s legal team sent a full accounting of every document that was found in the 15 boxes that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago, and also what was returned to the National Archives.
They also argued that the former president never had any intention of taking those boxes of classified documents to his home in Florida. However, General Services Administration employees packed them and didn’t even determine whether what was included in the boxes were any classified materials.
The letter continued:
“Our review of the boxes at NARA shows that White House institutional practices for the handling of classified materials – including declassification procedures – are inconsistent with how the intelligence community and military handles classified materials. This is indicative of the staff’s packing processes and not any criminal intent by President Trump.”
This latest attempt by Trump’s legal team to get others involved in the classified documents case against the former president included very harsh criticism of the federal prosecutors involved in the case, as well as NARA itself.
The letter specifically suggested that those people – led by Jack Smith, the special counsel assigned to the case – are attempting to create a prosecution and scandal that would ultimately serve to keep hidden the federal bureaucracy’s failures in allowing any classified materials to end up not just in the home of Trump, but also the home of President Joe Biden and at facilities owned by former President Jimmy Carter.
Trump’s lawyers addressed these concerns when they wrote:
“Deficient document handling and storage procedures are not limited to any individual, administration or political party. A legislative solution by Congress is required to prevent the DOJ from continuing to conduct ham-handed criminal investigations of matters that are inherently not criminal.”