The letter also deepened the picture of the back-and-forth between the archives and Mr. Trump’s lawyers over how to handle getting the papers back.
It described how archive officials had “ongoing communications” with Mr. Trump’s representatives throughout last year about presidential records that were missing from their files. Those communications, Ms. Wall wrote, resulted in the archives retrieving 15 boxes of materials in January, some of them containing highly classified information marked Top Secret and others that were related to Special Access Programs.
But even after the archives got these records back, the letter said, Mr. Trump’s lawyers, in consultation with the White House Counsel’s Office, asked for time to determine whether — and how many of — the documents were protected by executive privilege, leading to negotiations that delayed the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the intelligence community from assessing the materials. Those negotiations continued through April even as Ms. Wall alerted Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the “urgency” of the agencies’s request to see the documents, which touched on “important national security interests,” her letter said. Ultimately, the letter added, Ms. Wall rejected Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege after consulting with a top Justice Department official — a decision that Mr. Biden deferred to. As she wrote to Mr. Corcoran, before alerting him in May that the archives would soon hand the documents over to the F.B.I., “The question in this case is not a close one.”
“The Executive Branch here is seeking access to records belonging to, and in the custody of, the federal government itself,” Ms. Wall wrote, “not only in order to investigate whether those records were handled in an unlawful manner but also, as the National Security Division explained, to ‘conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported.”
Mr. Solomon’s decision to release the letter did more than confirm that Mr. Trump had kept some of the country’s most highly guarded secrets in a relatively unsecured beachfront club in Florida. It also revealed that well before Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued in their court filing on Monday that many of the records were protected by executive privilege the same argument had been rejected by the White House and a top official at the Justice Department.
The court filing also appeared at times to make arguments that could ultimately harm Mr. Trump.
One long section of the motion — “President Donald J. Trump’s Voluntary Assistance” — was devoted to portraying Mr. Trump as having fully cooperated with the archives and the Justice Department from the outset. But read in a slightly different manner, the facts laid out in the section could be construed as evidence that Mr. Trump had instead obstructed the investigation into the documents.
This story originally Appeared on NYTimes