Former President Donald Trump has admitted to taking records from the White House and transporting them to Mar-a-Lago. However, as he noted these records were meant to be personal records and should not be considered presidential records.
Trump’s attorneys have argued that under the Presidential Records Act, “a President determines whether a document constitutes a Presidential record or a personal record.” They have also argued that the decision once made is not one that can be challenged. Therefore, they claim that there are no grounds for the Government to seize documents from a former President or to declare them as Presidential records.
As Trump’s lawyers have said, Trump was still serving in office during the packaging and transportation of the documents. This meant that he was allowed to make a designation decision and that it was his choice to keep certain documents personal. They also added that the records taken from his Mar-a-Lago estate are therefore considered personal records.
These arguments were made in response to Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master reviewing records seized during the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Florida resort home. Attorney General Merrick Garland had said that he was the one to approve the search warrant.
An appeals court previously granted the Justice Department’s request to continue their criminal investigation using allegedly classified documents found during the search of the home. This was considered a large win for the panel who previously had to hand around 100 documents with classified markings to the special master for review.
The Justice Department has maintained that Trump’s legal argument does not stand.