The US Justice Department is asking a federal judge to hold former President Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena issued this summer ordering the former president to turn over records marked classified, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN on Thursday.
The development comes after Trump’s legal team said it conducted searches at four locations just before Thanksgiving, finding two documents with classified markings at a storage facility in Florida. The Trump team turned over those two documents to the FBI and announced to a federal judge in Washington, DC, that they believed Trump was now in compliance with the six-month-old subpoena.
The Justice Department disagreed with Trump’s team and department prosecutors told DC District Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who oversees federal grand jury proceedings there, that the searches weren’t satisfactory. The contempt proceedings before Howell are under seal.
In January and June, the Trump team turned over boxes and an envelope of federal records, including some marked as classified. Federal agencies had been seeking their return for months, and the Justice Department issued a subpoena that asked for documents marked as classified in May.
Even after the subpoena, investigators found reason to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, seizing 33 more boxes of records, including more than 100 documents marked classified in the August search.
More recently, prosecutors have insisted that sensitive government documents are still missing and that Trump was obligated to return them.
A report in September indicated that a document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents during the search of Trump’s home.
A subsequent report in October said some of the classified documents recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China.
Trump insists that he declassified the documents in question before leaving office. The former President and his lawyers have publicly insinuated on multiple occasions that the agents who carried out the raid planted evidence during the search.
A hearing is set for Friday, when Howell will consider whether to hold Trump and his post-presidency office in contempt of court, according to CNN. If held in contempt, he could rack up fines.