The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a May subpoena ordering the former president to return all classified records he took with him on leaving the White House, according to three reports on Thursday.
The federal prosecutors recently asked Washington, D.C., District Chief Judge Beryl Howell to hold Trump and his office in contempt, CNN and ABC News reported, citing unnamed sources.
The contempt hearing has been set for Friday, according to The Washington Post, which was the first to report on the story, also citing unnamed sources.
If Howell rules in the Department of Justice’s favor, the punishment could amount to fines.
The Justice Department has been investigating Trump for months on criminal allegations that he illegally took classified records with him when he left the White House in early 2021.
Following lengthy litigation on the matter, a grand jury produced a subpoena in May demanding Trump return to the government all classified records. In early August, the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, producing thousands of government documents, more than 100 of which were classified.
The development on Thursday comes a day after it was reported that at least two additional classified documents were discovered in a search of a West Palm Beach storage unit close to Mar-a-Lago.
The search was conducted by Trump’s lawyers amid pressure from Justice Department officials who warned that they believe further documents were still in the former president’s possession.
The request for a contempt hearing follows sealed court proceedings during which Trump’s team has pushed back against naming a records custodian to state that all records have been returned to the federal government, ABC News and The Post reported.
Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, said in a statement carried by ABC News, The Post and CNN, that the former president and his counsel are cooperating with the investigation “despite the unprecedented, illegal and unwarranted attacks by the weaponized Department of Justice.”
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