Judge Denies Justice Department Plea to Hold Trump in Contempt Over Records

Judge Denies Justice Department Plea to Hold Trump in Contempt Over Records – According to sources familiar with the proceedings, a federal judge denied the justice department’s plea to hold Donald Trump’s office in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena demanding the return of all classified papers. During a closed-door hearing on Friday, the chief US judge for the District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, told the department to resolve the matter with Trump’s legal team since a contempt finding would not stand, according to sources.

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The specifics of the hearing were obscured by the fact that the case was under seal. The judge’s decision, however, represents a victory for Trump as he faces a criminal probe into the improper preservation of national security secrets at his Mar-a-Lago resort and obstruction of justice. As required by the grand jury subpoena issued in May, federal prosecutors wanted to compel Trump to appoint a custodian of data and declare under oath that all classified materials had been given to the government, or else hold Trump’s office in contempt.

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The contempt action is understood to be focused on Trump’s political office because the subpoena sought the return of all documents and writings “in the custody of Donald J Trump and / or the Office of Donald J Trump” bearing classification markings. In response to the subpoena, Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran turned over a folder of documents to the justice department and asked another Trump lawyer Christina Bobb to sign a certification that she heavily caveated because she had not done the search, as it has been previously reported.

Ultimately, the letter stated that Bobb was attesting “based on the information provided to me” and “to the best of my knowledge,” a fact that she emphasized to the department around the time that prosecutors collected the folder and certification letter, according to a person familiar with the situation. However, after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and discovered 103 classified documents, prompting prosecutors to assume the subpoena had not been followed with, the department asked Trump’s attorneys to certify once more that no other materials remained.

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Despite repeated requests, Trump’s legal team has resisted designating a records custodian and submitting a sworn statement. This infuriated prosecutors, who informed the legal team that they would seek judicial enforcement if they did not offer a second attestation. According to reports, a portion of the Trump legal team’s hesitancy stems from the fact that neither they nor any other member of the former president’s office have ownership of all classified documents and do not believe they could answer every question concerning them fully.

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In a statement, a Trump spokesman claimed the former president and his attorneys would “continue to be transparent and cooperative despite the Department of Justice corrupt and heavily armed witch hunt.” In addition to the 103 found by the FBI at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, a check of a Florida storage unit containing boxes of Trump’s belongings uncovered two additional classified documents. It is unclear if the department launched the contempt process before or after the discovery of the two additional documents, but the Trump legal team is believed to have turned over the two new documents as soon as they were discovered, according to sources.

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