UNITED STATES: News reports indicate that former US President Donald Trump may have actively concealed critical documents during an FBI search of his property in June, Department of Justice officials say.
During a court filing, the department said, “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation”.
The department also alleged that the agents were forbidden, rather “explicitly prohibited”, from sifting through a storage box at Trump’s lavish Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
As per legal protocol and presidential conduct, US presidents must transfer all of their documents, reports and emails to a centralized government agency called the National Archive.
When he left office in January 2021, the FBI investigated whether Trump handled documents improperly and transferred them illegally to his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The former Republican candidate denied any wrongdoing and said the items were declassified.
Trump had been suing the Justice Department for a detailed list of documents taken from his possession at Mar-a-logo that did not align with the items on the warrant list. He is asking the government to return those items if they are not useful to the public or the state.
In addition, his attorneys requested that a “neutral” special master be appointed to assess whether the seized documents fall under the president’s right to executive privilege, which shields some communications from public view.
In criminal cases, special masters are typically appointed because there is a possibility that some evidence could be shielded by the attorney-client privilege or by other legal provisions, making it inadmissible in court.
The latest court filings by the Department of Justice on Tuesday are in response to Trump’s lawsuit.