The Justice Department is still demanding the Trump team designate a custodian of records to attest that all documents marked classified have been returned to the government, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
The Trump team has not named anyone to serve as a custodian of records in part because anyone selected would almost certainly face legal jeopardy, according to the source. There are also concerns that anyone from Trump’s current team named as custodian could not comprehensively answer questions about how documents were retained and managed since the former president left the White House, the source said.
Trump’s attorneys have already outlined to the Justice Department which properties it has searched, how the searches were conducted and what was found. CNN previously reported that a team hired by Trump’s lawyers searched Trump Tower, the Bedminster golf club, a Florida office and a Florida storage unit. Two documents with classified markings were found in the storage unit and provided to the FBI.
The Justice Department has also raised concerns that not enough detail has been provided about how searches were conducted at certain Trump properties, particularly Bedminster. Federal investigators had been invited to observe the search at Bedminster but declined. It would be unusual for the DOJ to observe searches that are not conducted by law enforcement.
Trump attorneys had received word in early November from Justice officials who said they believed the former president still had documents in his possession and asking his legal team to ensure that was not the case.
At the time, Trump attorneys worried that federal investigators might conduct a second raid – potentially on other Trump-owned properties – and they wanted to avoid that outcome, according to people familiar with their internal deliberations. So at the suggestion of Trump attorney Chris Kise, they hired an outside team to conduct additional searches, all of which were supervised by Trump attorneys.
A hearing is set for Friday, when a federal judge will consider whether to hold Trump and his post-presidency office in contempt of court. CNN previously reported the Justice Department is asking the judge to hold 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.