Former President Donald Trump is presently fighting legal battles on multiple fronts. While he prepares to mount defenses against what some have called a “patently political prosecution” in Manhattan and against accusations advanced by a Democrat prosecutor in Georgia, the legal team representing Trump in the classified documents saga is now going on offense.
Fox News Digital reported that the trio of attorneys representing Trump in the special counsel investigation into the presidential candidate’s handling and retention of allegedly classified records are now forcing the National Archives and Records Administration to show its hand.
Attorneys James Trusty, Lindsey Halligan, and Evan Corcoran filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday with the NARA.
They claim their FOIA suit will confirm their suspicions — and the suspicions of members of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability — that the National Archives is a “highly politicized” agency that criminalized a civil dispute over classified materials in an “unconstitutional and unprecedented weaponization of the Presidential Records Act.”
Trusty told Fox News Digital that they have demanded “documents that will expose NARA’s completely different treatment of President Trump from every other president.”
TheBlaze previously reported on accusations that the NARA provided deferential treatment to President Joe Biden, who was found to be in possession of several troves of classified documents, which he may have improperly handled and retained.
Committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote to acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall on Jan. 10 concerning “a political bias” at the NARA. Wall was reportedly one of the leading figures who triggered the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence over allegedly mishandled documents.
“For months, NARA failed to disclose to Committee Republicans or the American public that President Biden—after serving as Vice President—stored highly classified documents in a closet at his personal office,” wrote Comer. “NARA learned about these documents days before the 2022 midterm elections and did not alert the public that President Biden was potentially violating the law.”
“Meanwhile, NARA instigated a public and unprecedented FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago—former President Trump’s home—to retrieve presidential records. NARA’s inconsistent treatment of recovering classified records held by former President Trump and President Biden raises questions about political bias at the agency,” Comer added.
Trusty said that he and the rest of Trump’s legal team expect the FOIA suit to unearth evidence of “highly-politicized bureaucrats who worked in tandem with DOJ and politicians to criminalize a dispute that never has had criminal implications.”
“We’re confident that a substantive response to our demands from NARA will firmly establish a different and politicized treatment of President Trump,” added Trusty.
In the event that the NARA complies with the FOIA suit, it will turn over records pertaining to its “dispute resolution process and communications about how the agency characterizes presidential records; its process for establishing secure locations for past presidents to maintain possession of those records; and other information.”
The request, as written, “covers records located at any office within NARA, including its Office of General Counsel, each of its field and regional offices, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and the Obama Presidential Library.”
Insights into the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidential libraries and into how other presidents were treated by the NARA (e.g., whether the NARA has made criminal referrals with Biden or past presidents) may provide contrast for how Trump was in turn treated.
Extra to demanding communications between the NARA and the Biden administration — both about his storage of classified records at various insecure locations and his possible circumnavigation of the National Archives in other instances — Trump’s legal team is “very interested in the arrangement where Obama’s Foundation acknowledged possessing classified documents for years.”
The Federalist reported that prior to the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, he “rented a private facility in Hoffman Estates to serve as a storage place for his presidential papers, and by October of 2016, while he was still in office, shipments of artifacts from his presidency began arriving at the suburban Chicago storage facility.”
The NARA later worked with Obama to ship his classified and unclassified documents to the Chicago area, where many remained well into 2018.
Trusty noted that the Trump legal team would “love to see the paper trail” relating to the $3.3 million that Obama Foundation Executive Director Robbie Cohen mentioned paying to the NARA “in eventual moving costs” for the Obama documents in a Sept. 21, 2018, letter.
The lawsuit also covers “any and all documents” related to the “dispute-resolution process that NARA uses, or has used, to resolve disagreements with any of the Past Presidents and their Administrations, concerning the classification of records as Presidential records, personal records, agency records or otherwise.”
In addition to providing a look behind the scenes at the NARA and at its approach to Trump, the former president’s attorneys indicated they mean to expose that “the underpinnings” of the DOJ’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records are “rotten.”
Trump’s legal team gave the NARA 10 days to turn over the documents, noting, “Expedited treatment is justified because President Trump has a reasonable expectation of an imminent loss of a substantial due process right.”
This lawsuit comes just days after a federal judge ordered Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify in the classified documents investigation, reported CNN.
A Trump spokesman said of the DOJ’s targeting of Corcoran: “Whenever prosecutors target the attorneys, that’s usually a good indication their underlying case is very weak. If they had a real case, they wouldn’t need to play corrupt games with the Constitution. Every American has the right to consult with counsel and have candid discussions – this promotes adherence to the law.”
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