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Prosecutors hit back at Trump’s accusations of political bias in classified documents case

Special counsel Jack Smith’s legal team rejected the former president’s contention that the case was “politically motivated and biased” in a new court filing.
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Former President Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Laconia, N.H., on Jan. 22.Matt Rourke / AP file

Special counsel Jack Smith’s legal team on Friday rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims of political bias in the classified documents case against him in Florida.

The 67-page filing came in a response to an effort by Trump’s lawyers to get prosecutors to turn over certain documents that they claim will serve as evidence of bias and misconduct surrounding records that were retrieved from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Smith’s team urged the court to deny Trump’s request in its entirety.

“Discovery requests must be based on specific demands, tied to the case, for items material to preparing the defense,” prosecutors wrote. “Instead of meeting those standards,” they added, Trump’s team was seeking records “based on speculative, unsupported, and false theories of political bias and animus.”


This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023. (Justice Department via AP)
This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.Justice Dept. via AP

Prosecutors contended that Trump’s recent court filing sought to “cast a cloud of suspicion over responsible actions by government officials diligently doing their jobs.”

“Referrals to offices with authority to consider the security concerns prompted by the revelation that Trump possessed classified records at Mar-a-Lago was, again, entirely appropriate and in no way indicative of political bias,” they wrote.

Prosecutors also disputed the Trump team’s timeline of events leading up to the Mar-a-Lago search. They defended the National Archives and Records Administration’s formal referral to the Justice Department in February 2022, which they said came after “months of efforts” to retrieve government documents from Trump after he had left office.

A spokesperson and an attorney for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night.

Friday’s filing comes after Trump’s attorneys indicated in a filing last month that they’ll argue prosecutors carried out a “politically motivated and biased” probe into the former president’s handling of classified documents with the goal of damaging his 2024 bid.

Trump’s attorneys had highlighted his victory in the Iowa caucuses and accused prosecutors of disregarding discovery obligations and Justice Department policy in an effort on behalf of the Biden administration to slow Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges against him, which relate to willfully retaining national defense information in connection with classified documents that were uncovered at his Mar-a-Lago property more than a year after he left office, and scheming to delete security video at the Mar-a-Lago property.

Co-defendants Walt Nauta, a top aide, and Carlos De Oliveira, a maintenance supervisor at Mar-a-Lago, have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from allegations that they, too, were involved in an effort to delete security video.

The case is currently set to go to trial in May. It was initially expected to commence after Trump’s federal election subversion trial in Washington, D.C., but the judge overseeing that case postponed the trial on Friday, writing that it would no longer begin on March 4. An appeals court has yet to weigh in on Trump’s argument that the case should be dismissed on presidential immunity grounds.

The postponement in Washington means it’s likely that the Manhattan district attorneys case, set to begin on March 25, will be the former president’s next trial. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels that were made shortly before the conclusion of his 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.