Trump lawyers and prosecutors spar over evidence in classified documents case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump asked the judge overseeing the classified documents case against him to block prosecutors from using as evidence the boxes of records that FBI agents seized during a search of the former president's Florida property nearly two years ago, according to a motion unsealed Tuesday.

The defense lawyers asserted in the motion that the August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida was unconstitutional and “illegal” and the FBI affidavit filed in justification of it was tainted by misrepresentations.

Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith's office, which brought the case, rejected each of those accusations and defended the investigative approach as “measured” and “graduated.” They said the search warrant was obtained after investigators obtained surveillance video showing what they said was a concerted effort to conceal the boxes of classified documents inside the property.

“The warrant was supported by a detailed affidavit that established probable cause and did not omit any material information. And the warrant provided ample guidance to the FBI agents who conducted the search. Trump identifies no plausible basis to suppress the fruits of that search,” prosecutors wrote.

The defense motion was filed in February but was made public on Tuesday, along with hundreds of pages of documents from the investigation that were filed to the case docket in Florida.

Those include a previously sealed opinion last year from the then-chief judge of the federal court in Washington, which said that Trump's lawyers, months after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, had turned over four additional documents with classification markings that were found in Trump's bedroom.

That March 2023 opinion from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell directed a former lead lawyer for Trump in the case to abide by a grand jury subpoena and to turn over materials to investigators, rejecting defense arguments that their cooperation was prohibited by attorney-client privilege and concluding that prosecutors had made a “prima facie" showing that Trump had committed a crime.

In the newly unsealed motion, Trump's defense team asked the Florida judge overseeing the case, Aileen Cannon, to suppress audio recordings that the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, made of conversations with Trump. Prosecutors responded that there's no basis for excluding that evidence from the case.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are due back in court Wednesday for the first time since Cannon indefinitely postponed the former president's trial earlier this month. The case had been set for trial on May 20, but Cannon cited numerous issues she has yet to resolve as a basis for canceling the trial date.

On Wednesday, Cannon was scheduled to hear arguments on a Trump request to dismiss the indictment on grounds that it fails to clearly articulate a crime and instead amounts to “a personal and political attack against President Trump” with a "litany of uncharged grievances both for public and media consumption."

The motion is one of several that Trump's lawyers have filed to dismiss the case, some of which have already been denied.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

05/21/2024 21:16 -0400

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