Trump Lawyers Seek Meeting With Garland Over Special Counsel Inquiries
Two lawyers for the former president asserted that he was being treated unfairly in the investigations into his handling of classified documents and his efforts to remain in power.
Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump sent a letter on Tuesday requesting a meeting with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland related to the special counsel investigations into Mr. Trump’s conduct.
The letter cited no specifics but asserted that Mr. Trump was being treated unfairly by the Justice Department through the investigations led by the special counsel, Jack Smith. Mr. Smith is scrutinizing Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material that was discovered at his private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, after his presidency, as well as his efforts to retain power after he lost the 2020 election.
There are indications that Mr. Smith is approaching the stage of the investigation where he could start making decisions about whether to seek indictments of Mr. Trump and others in the documents case. The status of his other line of inquiry, into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his election loss and how they contributed to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by his supporters, is less clear.
“Unlike President Biden, his son Hunter and the Biden family, President Trump is being treated unfairly,” the lawyers for Mr. Trump, James Trusty and John Rowley, wrote to Mr. Garland.
“No president of the United States has ever, in the history of our country, been baselessly investigated in such outrageous and unlawful fashion,” they wrote.
They requested a meeting to discuss the “ongoing injustice” by Mr. Smith’s team.
The letter was reported earlier by ABC News.
A spokesman for Mr. Smith declined to comment.
The letter’s tone is markedly different from the approach taken by Mr. Trump shortly after the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, recovering documents that Mr. Trump had failed to turn over after receiving a subpoena demanding that they be returned to the government. At the time, Mr. Trump, through an intermediary, sent a message to Justice Department officials that the search inflamed the country, and he asked how he could help to lower the temperature.
The letter from his lawyers on Tuesday was directly confrontational. It implied that the family of Mr. Biden, who appointed Mr. Garland and who is himself the focus of a special counsel investigation into a far smaller number of classified documents from his vice-presidential and Senate days found in spaces where he worked and in his home, is benefiting from more favorable treatment.
Hunter Biden is under separate investigation on possible tax charges and for possibly having lied about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to purchase a handgun.
Mr. Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination in an increasingly crowded Republican field. But with the letter, Mr. Trump is relying on a frequently used playbook, in which he suggests a judge or prosecutor is treating him unfairly by the act of investigating him.
Most recently, he tried suggesting the judge overseeing an indictment against him in a state court in Manhattan has a conflict because a family member works for Democrats.
Seen another way, the letter could be an attempt by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to lay down a marker toward asking Mr. Garland to recuse himself from involvement in whether Mr. Trump faces charges.
While Mr. Smith will make the recommendation on whether to charge Mr. Trump with federal crimes in the two cases, a final decision would be made by Mr. Garland. In the documents-related case, prosecutors have examined evidence related to obstruction of justice, as well as to whether he mishandled classified material.
Mr. Smith’s team is still hearing from witnesses in the two cases, according to multiple familiar with the activity, although all signs point to the documents investigation nearing its end point.
Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have privately predicted that the former president will face charges in the case related to the documents at a minimum, although they maintain he did nothing wrong. They have also grown angry at the number of people who have been subpoenaed, from low-level workers at Mar-a-Lago to former government officials.
Mr. Trump is under indictment in New York on charges of paying hush money to a porn star and is facing a separate investigation in Georgia into his efforts to reverse his defeat at the polls there in 2020.
It is highly unlikely that Mr. Garland would agree to meet with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, one of the attorney general’s former aides said.
“Merrick Garland will not meet with Trusty or any of the other Trump lawyers,” said Anthony Coley, Mr. Garland’s former spokesman. “Jack Smith is running this investigation, not Merrick Garland.”
Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.