Prosecutors have urged a federal judge to hold Donald Trump’s office in contempt of court for failing to comply with a May subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession, a sign of how contentious the private talks have become over whether the former president still holds any secret papers, reports the Washington Post. Justice Department lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt. The request came after months of mounting frustration from the Justice Department with Trump’s team, which spiked in June after the former president’s lawyers provided assurances that a diligent search had been conducted for classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence. The FBI confirmed through a court-authorized search that many more classified documents remained. The Justice Department has repeatedly sought an unequivocal sworn written assurance from Trump’s team that all such documents have been returned. However, Trump’s team has been unwilling to designate a custodian of records to sign such a statement. Trump’s election denialism escalated last week, when he floated “terminating” the Constitution over non-existent voting fraud. Trump is under investigation for three potential crimes: mishandling classified documents, obstruction and destruction of government records.
Trump’s team has searched a number of his other properties in recent weeks and turned over two items with classification markings to the government. Trump’s advisers told the FBI the items were found in a storage facility located in West Palm Beach, Fl. Trump’s side has taken the position that no lawyer could sign a blanket certification in good faith or advise any client to do so. Some of Trump’s lawyers are wary of making any claim under oath based on Trump’s word alone. The government’s request for a finding of contempt underscores the fundamental distrust that has existed since the spring between the government trying to retrieve sensitive documents and a former president whose responses have proved untrustworthy. Under a court-authorized search warrant in August, 103 more classified documents were found at Mar-a-Lago that had not been turned in. Prosecutors asked the judge to find Trump’s side in contempt as long as none of his advisers assumes the role of custodian of records.