Donald Trump's lawyers want to be able to discuss classified information with the former president at his homes as part of his criminal case, for convenience's sake, according to a new court filing from the Justice Department — a proposal that federal prosecutors strongly oppose as out of line with how sensitive information can be handled.
Prosecutors in the classified documents case want Trump and his lawyers only to work with and talk about classified details in his case inside a specially protected room, called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.
But the DOJ said on Thursday that Trump's team "expressed concerns regarding the inconvenience posed by this limitation and requested that Defendant Trump be permitted to discuss classified information with his counsel in his office at Mar-a-Lago, and possibly Bedminster," according to a new court filing. "The government is not aware of any case in which a defendant has been permitted to discuss classified information in a private residence, and such exceptional treatment would not be consistent with the law."
The dispute between the special counsel's office and Trump's defense team was made public in a court filing Thursday where the Justice Department explained why both sides haven't come to an agreement on how to protect classified evidence in the case before trial.
Prosecutors have asked the judge, Aileen Cannon in Fort Pierce, Florida, to mandate that classified information in the case can only be viewed, stored and discussed in controlled settings under the oversight of an appointed classified information officer.
Trump’s team has not fully explained their position in court at this time, and the judge hasn’t weighed in.
The DOJ said Thursday a "significant portion" of the classified information that the defense team will receive before trial is so highly sensitive it must only be viewed in a SCIF. Many of the records Trump is accused of mishandling are at the sensitive compartmented level as well.
The filing was largely overshadowed on Thursday by the Justice Department securing expanded criminal charges against Trump and two of his employees in the case. Yet the arguments highlight the ongoing struggle the federal government has had with the ex-President regarding the handling of national security records.
“Defendant Trump’s personal residences and offices are not lawful locations for the discussion of classified information, any more than they would be for any private citizen. Since the conclusion of Defendant Trump’s presidency, neither the Mar-a-Lago Club nor the Bedminster Club has been an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display, or discussion of classified information,” prosecutors wrote in the court filing Thursday.
“It is particularly striking that he seeks permission to do so in the very location at which he is charged with willfully retaining the documents charged in this case.”