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The Department of Justice Suffers an Embarrassing Defeat in the Mar-a-Lago Case

    The Department of Justice suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Mar-a-Lago documents case against former President Donald Trump on Friday.

    In a case that was launched prior to the midterm elections and spurred allegations that Donald Trump had stolen “nuclear secrets” from the U.S. government while President, the Department of Justice is now dredging up ‘process crimes’ in the course of the investigation and court proceedings.

    On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Justice Department had asked a federal judge to hold Trump and his legal team in contempt of court for not complying with a subpoena ordering him to turn over all classified documents.

    The Washington Post has provided an update on that request: Motion has been denied.

    “A federal judge on Friday declined to hold former president Donald Trump’s office in contempt for not fully complying with a May subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession, according to people familiar with the proceedings,” the Post reported.

    “U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell told Justice Department lawyers and Trump’s legal team to come to an agreement themselves over what actions or assurances by Trump’s office would satisfy the government, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sealed court proceedings,” the court added.

    “The President and his counsel will continue to be transparent and cooperative,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement to The Washington Post.

    The FBI’s raid at the behest of the National Archives and Records Administration has not yielded the “nuclear secrets” that the Washington Post reported in August were in Trump’s possession. The Post has subsequently reported that a “review by agents and prosecutors found no discernible business interest in the Mar-a-Lago documents, people familiar with the matter said.”

    “As part of the investigation, federal authorities reviewed the classified documents that were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, looking to see if the types of information contained in them pointed to any kind of pattern or similarities, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation,” the Post reported.

    “That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said,” the report continued. “FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said. Trump repeatedly said the materials were his, not the government’s — often in profane terms, two of these people said.”

    “But they said the evidence collected over a period of months indicates the primary explanation for potentially criminal conduct was Trump’s ego and intransigence,” the report added.

    The Department of Justice is clearly attempting to ensnare Donald Trump in process crimes like “obstruction of justice” and “contempt of court.” On Friday, the judge saw through the charade and has again turned it away empty-handed.

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    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.