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Trump's Personal Handling Of Papers Could Help DOJ Case

The revelation that Donald Trump packed the initial 15 boxes returned to the National Archives that ignited a criminal Justice Department probe could strengthen the government’s case, legal experts tell The Hill. Trump attorney Alex Cannon refused to comply with a request from Trump that he certify that all the government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago had been returned. Cannon reportedly advised staff to not rummage through the boxes as they might contain classified documents. Trump’s direct handling of the records would indicate he may have had greater awareness of what was stored in his home and was actively involved in determining what to retain despite government orders. “The fact that he packed them is very significant because I imagine the Justice Department is trying to resolve how much evidence they have that Trump personally knew and personally was involved in hiding the documents,” said Ryan Goodman of the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law.

The warrant used to search Trump’s property indicated DOJ believed the mishandling of the records violated statutes barring willful concealment of government records and the Espionage Act, which bars knowingly removing national defense information. The government recovered more than 100 classified records during the August search. “The greatest legal significance is it goes to key elements of the criminal offenses which include proving that Trump had knowledge and intent to retain these documents and not fully return them to the Archives. So by personally going through the documents, that’s direct evidence that he had the requisite knowledge and intent,” Goodman said. Trump's lawyers have asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to step into the legal fight over the classified documents. The lawyers asked the justices to overturn a lower court ruling and allow a special master to review the 100 documents with classification markings that were taken in the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago.


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