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Trump lawyers meet with Justice Department as charging decision nears in Mar-a-Lago case

The investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is believed to be near its end. Prosecutors have placed a broad cross-section of witnesses, including lawyers for Trump and close aides, before a grand jury

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate on April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Florida.Associated Press/LaPresse (APN)

Lawyers for Donald Trump met with Justice Department officials on Monday as a decision nears on whether to bring charges over the handling of classified documents at the former president’s Florida estate.

The Trump lawyers two weeks ago requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland to raise concerns about what they alleged was prosecutorial misconduct and overreach by the team led by special counsel Jack Smith. But a defense attorney meeting with Justice Department officials is also often used as an opportunity to try to persuade them against bringing criminal charges.

A trio of Trump attorneys — James Trusty, John Rowley and Lindsey Halligan — exited the Justice Department building in Washington on Monday morning after more than an hour inside. They got into a black sport utility vehicle and did not respond to reporters’ questions.

It was not immediately clear who from the Justice Department attended the meeting. Spokespeople for Smith and the Justice Department had no immediate comment on the meeting.

After it ended, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform in capital letters: “How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong” when no other presidents have been charged. He referenced the investigation into his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, which ended without criminal charges, and a separate ongoing probe into the presence of classified documents at an office and home of President Joe Biden. And he characterized it as a “witch hunt.”

Unlike in the Trump investigation, though, Biden’s representatives initially alerted the Justice Department to the discovery of classified documents and consented to voluntary FBI searches. The FBI in the Trump investigation obtained a search warrant in August and recovered about 100 additional classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.

The investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is believed to be near its end, with a charging decision likely soon. Prosecutors have placed a broad cross-section of witnesses, including lawyers for Trump and close aides, before a grand jury.

Besides the Mar-a-Lago investigation, Smith is leading a separate probe into efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election.

It’s not clear when or if charges might be brought.

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