Donald Trump's attorneys conceded that he does not own his presidential records in their latest court filing, while also suggesting he declared those documents to be his personal papers.
The former president's attorneys downplayed the national security risks of keeping top-secret government records at Mar-a-Lago and said there's no evidence they had been improperly shared, but his legal team conceded those documents didn't actually belong to him, reported The Guardian.
"A former President has an unfettered right of access to his Presidential records even though he may not 'own' them," the filing reads. "Thus, contrary to the premise behind the Government's 'criminal' investigation, the determination of whether a former President timely provided documents to the National Archives and Records Administration is a civil matter governed by the [Presidential Records Act]."
Trump's attorneys responded to a Department of Justice motion asking District Court judge Aileen Cannon to give the government access to classified materials seized in the search, and they suggested that he may have declassified or designated some of those items as personal records.
"The PRA accords any President extraordinary discretion to categorize all his or her records as either Presidential or personal records, and established case law provides for very limited judicial oversight over such categorization," the filing reads. "The PRA further contains no provision authorizing or allowing for any criminal enforcement. Rather, disputes regarding the disposition of any Presidential record are to be resolved between such President and the National Archives and Records Administration."
"Thus, at best, the Government might ultimately be able to establish certain Presidential records should be returned to NARA," the filing adds. "What is clear regarding all of the seized materials is that they belong with either President Trump ... or with NARA, but not with the Department of Justice."