Donald Trump’s legal team met with officials at the U.S. Justice Department to discuss the investigation into classified documents that were found at the former president’s Florida estate, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Trump attorneys James Trusty, John Rowley, and Lindsey Halligan were seen leaving the building on Monday, and declined to answer questions from reporters about the substance of the meeting, which lasted about one and a half hours, or any other attendees. The lawyers’ appearance was first reported by CBS News.
A second person familiar with the meeting said that Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco were not present.
It’s not unusual for defense lawyers to meet with prosecutors before any decisions on indictments are made. The meeting is usually for the purpose of defense lawyers arguing why their client should not be charged.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment and a spokesperson for Trump did not return requests for comment.
The investigation led by Special Counsel Jack Smith comes as Trump seeks to return to the White House in the 2024 election. It’s one of several legal perils facing Trump, who denies wrongdoing and claims Smith’s probe — along with ongoing probes in Georgia and New York — is part of a partisan “witch hunt” against him.
Shortly after Trump’s lawyers left the Justice Department building, Trump posted a message in all capital letters on his Truth Social platform again denouncing the documents investigation. He didn’t specify what his lawyers had been told during the meeting.
“HOW CAN DOJ POSSIBLY CHARGE ME, WHO DID NOTHING WRONG, WHEN NO OTHER PRESIDENT’S WERE CHARGED,” Trump posted.
Monday’s meeting comes just a few weeks after Trusty and Rowley sent a letter requesting a meeting with Garland to discuss what they characterized as “the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by” Smith. The letter didn’t specify which of the investigations Trump’s lawyers wanted to discuss, or if they wanted to talk about both.
The letter said the department had applied a double standard, giving far greater consideration to President Joe Biden when classified materials were discovered at his Delaware home and at an office he had used than in Trump’s case. The lawyers added that Trump was given little time or assistance to go through records at the White House after his defeat in the 2020 election.
A search warrant issued in the records case last year indicated prosecutors were looking at obstruction of justice, which carries up to 20 years in prison and violations of the Espionage Act, which carry up to 10 years. Trump may also be facing charges for mishandling government documents, which can carry three years and disqualification from office, although there is disagreement among legal experts whether removal would apply to the office of the president.