Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is seeking a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland as the special counsel investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents reportedly nears its conclusion.
In a short, one-paragraph letter Trump posted on his social media site Truth Social on Tuesday night, Trump’s lawyers requested a meeting with Garland to discuss “the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors.”
“Unlike President Biden, his son Hunter, and the Biden family, President Trump is being treated unfairly. No President of the United States has ever, in the history of our country, been baselessly investigated in such an outrageous and unlawful fashion,” the letter says.
The lawyers did not provide any details to support their claims, but the tone and content of the letter mirrors statements made by Trump since the investigation into his conduct began.
The letter Tuesday echoes in some ways a message Trump attempted to convey to Garland in the wake of a search last year of his residence at Mar-a-Lago, his club in Palm Beach, Florida. According to reports at the time, Trump tried to deliver a message to Garland that he had been talking to people around the country who were angry with the search.
“The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?” Trump is said to have tried to pass on to the attorney general, though it is unclear if the message ever reached Garland.
Some at the time viewed the highly irregular action as a veiled threat.
A flurry of recent developments and reports this week indicate that special counsel Jack Smith’s probe is both wider in scope than anticipated and also nearing completion.
Smith’s team is tying up loose ends in the investigation and has obtained evidence that Trump held on to classified documents even after he was ordered to return them, according to a report Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.
According to several other reports, Smith’s team has also made inquiries into Trump’s business dealings abroad as part of the investigation – indicating a broader investigation scope than initially thought – but it is unclear if those inquiries have manifested any evidence of criminality.
Smith’s team has questioned Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, after a legal battle in which a judge agreed to let prosecutors pierce attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors argued that something called the “crime fraud exception” applied – or that there was evidence that Trump used Corcoan’s services to commit a crime. A judge in the case agreed in an order that remains under seal, not only giving a boon to Smith’s team but also implicitly lending credence to prosecutors’ assertions. Corcoran and his notes from his meetings with Trump are expected to be central to the investigation.
The National Archives also last week informed Trump’s lawyers that it was handing over a cache of documents to Smith’s team that show that Trump and his advisers were informed of the rules and regulations around classified documents.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that he had the power to instantly declassify documents after leaving office, though there remains no evidence he actually did so, and experts have pushed back against the legality of his statements.
In spring 2022, federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to Trump for any classified documents that remained in his possession after he left office. That subpoena came after the National Archives had already requested documents they believed to be missing. Trump’s team turned over an initial batch of documents, but the Archives alerted federal authorities that it believed Trump still had classified materials in his possession.
In response to the May subpoena, Corcoran turned over another tranche of classified materials to authorities. He then drafted a statement saying that Trump’s team had done a “diligent search” and that Trump no longer had classified materials in his possession
But in August, federal investigators executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, where they found thousands of government records, including more than 100 classified documents. Some of those classified materials reportedly included deeply sensitive intelligence on China and information on Iran’s missile program.
Smith is investigating Trump both for his handling of the documents and for potential obstruction of the federal investigation.
Trump has publicly said many times that he did keep some documents. According to the report in The Wall Street Journal, Smith’s team has interviewed many people who worked at Mar-a-Lago, where the documents were kept.
Smith is also leading an investigation into Trump and his allies’ roles leading up to the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. The status of that investigation is unclear.
If Smith recommends any indictments in the documents probe, Garland would be responsible for the final decisions on those charges. As Trump faces mounting legal woes, a federal indictment could upend the current presidential election, in which Trump is the current favorite for the Republican nomination.
Trump last month became the first former president indicted on criminal charges in connection with his role in a hush money scheme during the 2016 presidential election.
Prosecutors in Georgia have also indicated that they plan to hand down indictments in August in a probe into Trump and his allies’ attempts to overturn the election results in the state in 2020.