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Trump claims clemency requests taken by FBI from Mar-a-Lago should be returned to him

Justice Department lawyers identified nine documents that Trump is arguing are his personal records.
Probe Into Classified Documents Uncovered At Trump's Mar-A-Lago Estate Continues
President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Sept. 14, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is claiming clemency requests that he received while serving in the White House as well as other documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago related to immigration initiatives are his property and should be returned to him.

In a letter Thursday to the special master appointed to review the documents, Justice Department lawyers identified nine documents that Trump is arguing are his own "personal records citing the Presidential Records Act and a district court case."

"For its part, the government categorizes those nine documents as presidential records," the DOJ lawyers wrote to Dearie.

Six of the nine documents "are clemency requests with supporting materials and relate to the president’s “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment," the filing said. The letter to Dearie didn't provide specific details about those documents, such as who made the clemency requests.

Two of the documents "relate to immigration initiatives and the president’s powers under the Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws governing immigration and border control," it said. The remaining document includes "a printed e-mail message from a person at one of the military academies addressed to the president in his official capacity about the academy’s sports program and its relationship to martial spirit."

The filing didn't specify anything more about those documents either.

The federal government argued that the nine documents do not belong to Trump and are presidential records that should not be returned to him. The lawyers wrote they are documentary material "created or received by the president, the president’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President" and "in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the president."

The lawyers also rejected Trump's argument that personal records were taken by the FBI when they searched his Florida estate.

"Personal records that are not government property are seized every day for use in criminal investigations. And the fact that more than 100 documents bearing classification markings were commingled with unclassified and even personal records is important evidence in the government’s investigation in this case," they wrote.

Last week, the Supreme Court handed Trump a loss in his dispute with the Justice Department over documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence, rejecting his request that a special master be allowed to review classified papers.

The more than 100 classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago are just a small part of the 11,000 records federal agents seized in August amid concerns that Trump had unlawfully retained official White House records after he left office.