Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to hold former President Donald Trump’s office in contempt of court over its failure to comply with a subpoena earlier this year requiring the ex-president to return all classified documents, according to the Washington Post and CNN, as the Justice Department continues to investigate Trump for holding onto sensitive records.
The DOJ recently asked D.C.-based federal district Judge Beryl A. Howell to hold Trump’s team in contempt, according to the Post and CNN, citing people with knowledge of the situation, but a ruling has not been made in the sealed proceedings.
Trump’s team has repeatedly insisted it has given the government all documents marked as classified, while Trump claims he declassified all the records before he left the White House—but he hasn’t provided evidence to back that up.
The main issue is reportedly the Trump team’s refusal to appoint an official custodian of records, who would sign a document assuring the DOJ that all classified records had been returned.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes, but spokesman Steven Cheung told the Post the former president’s attorneys “continue to be cooperative and transparent.”
A May grand jury subpoena required Trump to hand over all classified documents that were still in his possession, and his legal team quickly assured the Justice Department he had done so. But prosecutors were skeptical, prompting the DOJ to seek a search warrant that led to the August 8 raid at Mar-A-Lago, which uncovered more than 100 documents marked as classified. The raid was part of a DOJ investigation into whether Trump or his associates violated several federal laws by mishandling government records—a probe that is now overseen by special counsel Jack Smith. After the raid, Howell ordered Trump’s lawyers to conduct a search for more records, which reportedly uncovered two more classified documents in a Florida storage unit around Thanksgiving. Searches of Trump Tower, a closet at Mar-A-Lago and Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club did not appear to yield any records.
What We Don”t Know
It’s not clear what penalty Howell might give the Trump team if she holds them in contempt, but a fine seems to be the most likely outcome.
Last week, an appeals court shut down an independent special master’s review of the documents seized from Mar-A-Lago. Trump’s legal team does not plan to ask the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, CNN reported Thursday, which could speed up the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of the records.