dispute over secret documents
Supreme Court rejects Trump
10/14/2022 8:13 am
In August, the FBI found nearly 100 secret documents at Trump’s Florida mansion. In disputing his assessment, the ex-US president also turns to the Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservatives. But the judges rejected his request that a special auditor should first look at the documents.
Former US President Donald Trump has suffered the next legal setback in a dispute over the valuation of secret documents seized from him. The Supreme Court rejected the former president’s urgent request that nearly 100 secret documents be examined by a special examiner before they can be used by investigators.
In early August, the Federal Police FBI searched Trump’s villa in the US state of Florida. The FBI confiscated various classified documents, some of them with the highest level of secrecy. According to the FBI, about 100 of the thousands of documents were marked as secret. By keeping the documents in his private home after leaving office, Trump could hold himself liable for prosecution. The result was a legal wrangling by the authorities.
Meanwhile, Trump’s team managed to achieve success with the appointment of a neutral examiner for the documents. His job is, among other things, to filter documents that fall under the attorney-client privilege. However, the Ministry of Justice was able to prevail on a crucial point before an appeals court, which exempted about 100 documents marked as secret from examination. So they can be used for investigation against Trump. The Justice Ministry was concerned, among other things, because the search also found dozens of empty folders with a secret note – and it was unclear what documents they contained and where they are currently located.
Breaking privacy by “thinking about it”?
Trump’s lawyers argued before the Supreme Court, among other things, that the 76-year-old had unlimited rights to make documents public as president. Therefore, mere markings cannot determine whether a document is still classified or whether Trump has issued it. Therefore, the Special Investigator should be allowed to intervene in cases of suspicion. Trump said in a recent interview that he believes a president can lift the secrecy of documents with one word, “or only if you think about it”. Experts emphasized that there are definite procedures for this.
It is also controversial whether Trump, as a former president, still holds the right of protection of his documents, usually reserved for the head of state. And at least some records appear to be so sensitive to national security that it didn’t matter if they were classified as they are generally required to be kept under special protection.
The Supreme Court did not provide any explanation as to why it rejected the motion or if all nine judges agreed. During Trump’s tenure, three Supreme Court justices were appointed – and conservative lawyers now have a clear majority of six to three votes on the US Supreme Court. Trump has previously expressed disappointment that the Supreme Court did not want to deal with his false claims of massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election that he lost.
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