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DOJ filing opposing Trump 'special master' request includes photo of top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago

The Justice Department late Tuesday filed a 36-page response to former President Donald Trump's request that a federal judge in Florida appoint an outside "special master" to review documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago club on Aug. 8. 

The Justice Department argues the "appointment of a special master is unnecessary and would significantly harm important governmental interests, including national security interests," but also that Trump "lacks standing to seek judicial relief or oversight as to presidential records because those records do not belong to him." The DOJ also took the opportunity to publicly elaborate on the government's case against Trump and itemize his team's wrangling over documents improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago from the White House. 

Notably, the Justice Department "developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the [Mar-a-Lago] storage room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation," DOJ counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt wrote. The filing included a May 11 grand jury subpoena for all classified documents still at Mar-a-Lago and a Trump lawyer's June 3 signed sworn statement that a "diligent search" of the boxes taken from the White House found no classified documents or "copy, written notation, or reproduction" of those documents.. 

"That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the 'diligent search' that the former president's counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter," Bratt stated.

The filing also includes a photo of classifed documents found in Trump's office in the Aug. 8 search, including three found in "the desks." In some cases, Bratt wrote, "even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents."

Bratt also argued that Trump has no grounds for claiming executive privilege, and never tried to assert executive privilege or claim he had declassified the top secret documents in his possession. "The former president cites no case — and the government is aware of none — in which executive privilege has been successfully invoked to prohibit the sharing of documents within the executive branch," the filing states.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has set a Thursday hearing to discuss Trump's special master request.