WASHINGTON - Former President Donald Trump's attorneys on Monday said they oppose the U.S. Justice Department's request to continue to review classified documents seized by the FBI from his Florida estate last month in an ongoing criminal investigation.
In a court filing, his lawyers also asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to require an independent arbiter, called a special master, to include the roughly 100 documents with classification markings in its review of more than 11,000 records recovered during the court-approved Aug. 8 search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
Trump is under investigation for retaining government records, some of which were marked as highly classified, at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office in January 2021. The government is also investigating possible obstruction of the probe.
"In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own presidential and personal records," Trump's lawyers wrote.
"The government should therefore not be permitted to skip the process and proceed straight to a preordained conclusion," they added.
The clash between the Justice Department and Trump over how to treat classified material puts Cannon on the hot seat to make a decision.
If she rules that the Justice Department cannot continue relying on the classified materials for its criminal probe or insists on letting the special master review them, prosecutors have threatened to appeal to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The documents probe is one of several federal and state investigations Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business. He has suggested he might run for president again in 2024, but has not made any commitment.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham)