The Justice Department has asked a judge to hold former President Trump’s legal team in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena demanding the return of all classified records stored at Mar-a-Lago, according to reporting from The Washington Post.
The appeal to a federal judge in sealed court documents comes after the Trump team has still failed to designate a custodian of records and is the latest sign of tension between DOJ and the Trump team just days after another two classified documents were found at a South Florida storage unit housing other Trump records.
In recent days, Justice Department lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sealed court proceedings. But the judge has not yet held a hearing or ruled on the request, they said.
The request came after months of mounting frustration from the Justice Department with Trump’s team — frustration that spiked in June after the former president’s lawyers provided assurances that a diligent search had been conducted for classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence. But the FBI amassed evidence suggesting — and later confirmed through a court-authorized search — that many more remained.
One of the key areas of disagreement centers on the Trump legal team’s repeated refusal to designate a custodian of records to sign a document attesting that all classified materials have been returned to the federal government, according to two of these people. The Justice Department has repeatedly sought an unequivocal sworn written assurance from Trump’s team that all such documents have been returned, and Trump’s team has been unwilling to designate a custodian of records to sign such a statement while also giving assurances that they have handed documents back.