Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump sent a letter Tuesday requesting a meeting with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland regarding the special counsel’s investigations into Mr. Trump’s conduct.
The letter did not cite any specifics but claimed Mr Trump was being treated unfairly by the Justice Department in investigations led by special counsel Jack Smith. Mr. Smith examines Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents that were discovered at his private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, after his presidency, as well as his efforts to retain power after losing the 2020 election.
There are indications that Mr. Smith is approaching the stage of the investigation where he could begin to make decisions about whether to seek indictments from 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 defeat 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,” Mr. Trump’s attorneys, 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 an outrageous and unlawful manner,” they wrote.
They requested a meeting to discuss the “continuing injustice” of Mr. Smith’s team.
The letter was reported earlier by ABC News.
A spokesperson for Mr Smith declined to comment.
The tone of the letter is markedly different from the approach Mr. Trump took shortly after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, recovering documents that Mr. Trump did not have. not surrendered after receiving a subpoena demanding that they be surrendered to the government. At the time, Mr. Trump, through an intermediary, sent a message to Justice Department officials that the raid had inflamed the country, and he asked how he could help bring down the temperature.
The letter from his lawyers on Tuesday was directly confrontational. This implied that the family of Mr. Biden, who nominated Mr. Garland and who is himself the subject of a special counsel investigation into a much smaller number of classified documents from his days as vice president. and Senate found in spaces where he worked and in his home, enjoys more favorable treatment.
Hunter Biden is under separate investigation over possible tax charges and for possibly lying about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to buy a handgun.
Mr. Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination in an increasingly crowded Republican field. But with the letter, Mr Trump relies on a frequently used playbook, in which he suggests a judge or prosecutor treat him unfairly by investigating him.
More recently, he tried to suggest that the judge overseeing an indictment against him in Manhattan state court had a conflict because a family member worked for the Democrats.
Seen another way, the letter could be an attempt by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to lay down a marker asking Mr. Garland to recuse himself from any 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 case, prosecutors considered evidence related to obstruction of justice, as well as whether he mishandled classified documents.
Mr Smith’s team is still hearing from witnesses in both cases, according to several people familiar with the activity, although all signs indicate that the investigation into the documents is nearing completion.
Some of Mr Trump’s advisers have privately predicted that the former president will face charges in the minimal documents case, although they maintain he did nothing wrong. They have also become angry at the number of people who have been subpoenaed, from low-level Mar-a-Lago workers to former government officials.
Mr Trump is indicted in New York for paying silent money to a porn star and faces a separate investigation in Georgia into his efforts to reverse his defeat at the polls there in 2020.
Mr. Garland is highly unlikely to agree to meet with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, one of the former attorney general’s aides said.
“Merrick Garland will not be meeting with Trusty or any of Trump’s other attorneys,” said Anthony Coley, Mr. Garland’s former spokesman. “Jack Smith is leading this investigation, not Merrick Garland.”
Thrush Glenn contributed report.