Trump seeks to reestablish secure facility at Mar-a-Lago to review classified evidence

Donald Trump’s legal team is asking the government to reestablish a secure facility at Mar-a-Lago so that the former president can review classified discovery in the documents case.

The filing comes after Trump requested to review evidence in the documents case at his Florida home, something prosecutors dismissed as “extraordinary” given that it is the very location where he is charged with improperly handling some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets.

“Re-establishing the same secure area that existed during President Trump’s term as President of the United States is a secure, efficient, and cost-effective way for these conversations to take place in a fully secure environment,” his attorneys wrote in the filing Wednesday.

“President Trump requests that the Court approve the renewed use of the previously approved and appropriately secure location so that he is then able to discuss the relevant classified information with his counsel without the need to mobilize his security detail and state and local law enforcement every time he has a conversation regarding his defense as it relates to purportedly classified information.”

The filing comes as prosecutors and Trump’s team haggle over a protective order that sets guidelines for how the highly confidential records at issue in the case regarding his attempts to stay in power after the 2020 election may be reviewed.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team said the documents, as in other Espionage Act violation cases, must be reviewed in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).

While the government created such a space within Mar-a-Lago for the duration of Trump’s presidency, it was “decertified” after his 2020 election loss. 

Prosecutors fought an earlier request by Trump’s team to allow him to review and discuss evidence in the case at Mar-a-Lago or at Bedminster.

“Defendant Trump’s personal residences and offices are not lawful locations for the discussion of classified information, any more than they would be for any private citizen,” they wrote in the July filing.

“There is no basis for the defendant’s request that he be given the extraordinary authority to discuss classified information at his residence, and it is particularly striking that he seeks permission to do so in the very location at which he is charged with willfully retaining the documents charged in this case.” 

Trump is set to be arraigned for a second time in the case Thursday after the Justice Department filed a superseding indictment alleging the former president was also central in directing an effort to destroy Mar-a-Lago video camera footage.

The indictment brought additional obstruction of justice-related charges for Trump, bringing to 40 the total counts he is facing in the matter, and also resulted in the naming of a new co-conspirator in the case, property manager Carlos de Oliveira. 

The superseding indictment does not establish that the move was successful, but the latest filing from Trump’s team makes a brief reference to the new charges, denying the allegations. 

“As relevant here, the charges allege various obstruction-related conduct arising out of false claims of efforts to destroy certain video tapes. No videotapes were deleted or destroyed, and the government does not so allege,” they write.

Updated at 4:19 p.m.


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