Oct 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump claims pardons, immigration records count as personal property

Photo of Donald Trump speaking into a mic at a rally

Former President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Mesa, Arizona, earlier this month. Photo: Mario Tama via Getty Images

Former President Trump is claiming that nine documents containing packages on pardons and immigration policies are personal property, according to new court filings addressing the special master reviewing the materials.

Why it matters: The records are the center of a legal dispute with the Department of Justice, which seized boxes of materials, including classified information, from his Mar-a-Lago residence in August.

Driving the news: Trump argued that the documents belong to him, but the DOJ wrote in its response that they are covered by the Presidential Records Act.

  • The act dictates that the U.S. government retains complete ownership, possession and control of records created or received by a president — and that they must be turned over to the National Archives upon the president's departure from the White House.
  • The DOJ noted that some of the documents, such as the pardon packages, were clearly addressed to Trump in his official capacity and not his personal capacity.

Worth noting: The dispute is likely a preview of larger conflicts revolving around the roughly 13,000 documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

The big picture: Last week, the Justice Department officially appealed the decision to appoint a special master to review the records.

Read the full letter.

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