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 Trump’s conduct.
The letter did not cite details, but claimed that the Justice Department was treating Trump unfairly through investigations led by special counsel Jack Smith. Smith is examining Trump’s handling of classified material 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 signs that Mr. Smith is nearing the stage of the investigation where he could begin making decisions about whether to pursue charges against Mr. Trump and others in the documents case. The status of his other line of inquiry, into Trump’s efforts to reverse his electoral defeat and how they contributed to the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol by his supporters, is less clear.
“Unlike President Biden, his son Hunter, and the Biden family, President Trump is being treated unfairly,” Trump attorneys James Trusty and John Rowley wrote to Garland.
“No president of the United States, in the history of our country, has been baselessly investigated in such an outrageous and illegal manner,” they wrote.
They requested a meeting to discuss the “ongoing injustice” by Mr. Smith’s team.
the letter was previously reported by ABC News.
A Smith spokesman declined to comment.
The tone of the letter is markedly different from the approach taken by Trump shortly after the FBI executed a search warrant in Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, recovering documents that Trump failed to turn over after receiving a subpoena demanding that they be returned to the government. At the time, Trump, through an intermediary, sent a message to Justice Department officials that the search was inflaming the country and asked how he could help cool down.
The letter from his lawyers on Tuesday was directly confrontational. It implied that the family of Mr. Biden, who named Mr. Garland and who is the focus of a special counsel investigation into a much smaller number of classified documents from his days as vice president and in the Senate found in spaces where he worked and at home, he benefits from more favorable treatment.
Hunter Biden is under separate investigation for possible tax charges and for possibly lying about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to buy a firearm.
Trump is the favorite for the Republican nomination in an increasingly crowded Republican field. But with the letter, Trump is drawing on an oft-used playbook, in which he suggests that a judge or prosecutor is treating him unfairly for the act of investigating him.
More recently, he tried to suggest that the judge overseeing an indictment against him in state court in Manhattan is in conflict because a family member works for Democrats.
Viewed another way, the letter could be an attempt by Trump’s lawyers to set up a marker asking Garland to refrain from participating if Trump faces charges.
While Mr. Smith will make the recommendation on whether to charge Mr. Trump with federal crimes in both cases, Mr. Garland will make the final decision. In the case involving the documents, prosecutors have examined evidence related to obstruction of justice, as well as whether he mishandled classified material.
Mr. Smith’s team is still hearing witnesses in both cases, according to several familiar with the activity, although all signs point to the document investigation nearing its end point.
Some of Trump’s advisers have privately predicted that the former president will face charges in the case involving the documents at the very least, though they maintain he did nothing wrong. They have also been angered by the number of people who have been subpoenaed, from low-level workers at Mar-a-Lago to former government officials.
Trump is indicted in New York for paying hush money to a porn star and faces a separate investigation in Georgia into his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss there.
It is highly unlikely that Garland will agree to meet with Trump’s lawyers, said one of the former assistant attorneys general.
“Merrick Garland will not be meeting with Trusty or any of the other Trump attorneys,” said Anthony Coley, Garland’s former spokesman. “Jack Smith is leading this investigation, not Merrick Garland.”
glenn thrush contributed reporting.