Former President Donald Trump’s legal team made a significant revelation during a hearing in his classified documents case. They informed the federal judge overseeing the case that there had been extensive communications among special counsel Jack Smith’s office, the White House, the Department of Justice, and the National Archives and Records Administration before Trump’s indictment.
Julie Kelly, a journalist who covered the hearing, took to social media afterward and described the revelations as “bombshell.” One of the shocking revelations was the existence of “years’ worth of security footage” from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. Additionally, there was evidence of “extensive communications” between the White House, the National Archives, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Justice, all aimed at determining which files to include in the indictment.
This new information confirms previous reports from August 2022, which stated that the Biden White House had worked directly with the Justice Department and the National Archives to initiate the criminal investigation into Trump.
According to government documents obtained by a news outlet, White House Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su had been engaged in conversations with the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the National Archives as early as April. By May, Su had conveyed to the Archives that President Joe Biden would not object to waiving Trump’s claims of executive privilege. This decision paved the way for the Department of Justice to obtain a grand jury subpoena, compelling Trump to turn over any remaining materials from his presidency.
On May 10, 2022, Acting National Archivist Debra Steidel Wall sent a letter to Trump’s attorneys, acknowledging the involvement of the White House. The letter stated that the White House Counsel’s Office had formally transmitted a request from the Department of Justice to the National Archives, asking for FBI access to certain boxes containing documents. Notably, the letter also mentioned that Biden had empowered Wall to determine whether Trump’s claim of executive privilege should be upheld. Wall ultimately decided not to honor Trump’s claim, surprising legal experts who believe that a sitting president should not have the authority to waive the executive privilege of a predecessor without their consent.
During the hearing, it was also discussed that the start date for Trump’s classified documents trial, which is currently scheduled for May 20, 2024, might be pushed back. The judge expressed concerns about the compressed timeline and the various challenges, including voluminous discovery, discovery delays, late delivery of a secure location to review evidence, and conflicts with Trump’s trial schedules.
Trump’s legal team has requested a delay in the trial until after the November election next year. They argue that proceeding with the trial during a presidential election cycle, where opposing candidates are directly adversarial to each other, would make it difficult to secure a fair and impartial jury selection process.
Moreover, Trump’s lawyers highlighted that preparing for another trial on election interference, scheduled to begin in Washington in March, would significantly hinder their ability to prepare for the documents case in May adequately. The election interference trial is expected to extend over several months, potentially overlapping with the documents case if the current start date is maintained.
Overall, Donald Trump now faces a total of 91 felony indictments brought by special counsel Jack Smith and Democratic prosecutors in New York City and Fulton County, Georgia. The developments in his classified documents case shed light on the extent of communications between the White House, the Department of Justice, intelligence agencies, and the National Archives before his indictment.