Judge orders Trump to identify private investigators involved in classified documents search

The New York Times reports that a judge has just ordered former President Donald Trump and his legal team to identify those individuals who searched Trump’s residences for classified documents. 

This is the latest development in the documents dispute between Trump and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). This is the same dispute which saw the FBI’s unprecedented raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last August.

The government alleges that Trump wrongfully took classified documents when he left the White House at the end of his administration and improperly stored these documents at his properties.

Trump has disputed this, particularly the idea that he has done anything wrong or anything different from previous presidents. Trump has maintained that the DOJ’s actions, here, are politically motivated.

Background

This latest court ruling has to do with what happened after the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago.

In the fall of 2022, a group of private investigators was hired by Trump’s legal team to search four of the former president’s properties in order to determine whether any more classified documents could be found.

The private investigators were hired after the federal judge overseeing this case – Chief Judge Beryl Howell from the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. – urged Trump’s legal team to make sure that they complied with a DOJ subpoena from last May.

The Hill reports:

A grand jury first issued a subpoena in May to request that Trump provide any classified documents he still had to the National Archives and Record Administration. Trump’s legal team provided additional documents the next month, but the FBI searched his Florida property at Mar-a-Lago in August after it obtained evidence that other classified documents remained there.

The DOJ has continued to maintain that Trump still has more confidential documents, but that he and his legal team are not complying.

The latest

Now, Howell has ordered Trump and his legal team to disclose the identities of the private investigators that Trump hired to search his premises.

According to the Times report, the DOJ is looking to question these private investigators about the search.

Trump and his legal team had indicated that they would be willing to allow such questioning so long as the identities of the private investigators remain concealed.

But, Howell is not allowing this. Howell’s latest ruling – forcing Trump to identify the private investigators – suggests that Howell is moving in the direction of allowing the private investigators to be questioned by the DOJ.

When this will happen remains to be seen.

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