Former President Trump received legal advice regarding his retention of presidential records from the head of Judicial Watch, a group of conservative legal activists, CNN reported Friday.
Trump began receiving calls from Tom Fitton, the group’s chairman, shortly after the National Archives confirmed it obtained 15 boxes of documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property earlier this year.
The Archives reportedly asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate after receiving the boxes, some of which contained classified information.
Fitton told Trump that providing the boxes to the Archives was a mistake and that the documents belonged to Trump, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Fitton said Trump should not provide additional documents if the Archives returned for more. He reportedly cited a 2012 case in which Judicial Watch was involved that he said gave Trump the power to do whatever he wanted with records from his time in the White House.
A source told CNN that Trump asked Fitton to brief his attorneys on the legal argument.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that he has cooperated fully with investigators seeking to retrieve the records. But Fitton increasingly began to convince him that he should have control over the records he owned, according to CNN.
The Hill has reached out to representatives for Trump and Fitton for comment.
The report comes in the form of an affidavit that the FBI used to establish probable cause that a crime was being committed and which is expected to be revealed publicly on Friday. A federal judge ruled that the DOJ must release a redacted version of the affidavit by noon.
The DOJ had argued that releasing the affidavit in full could jeopardize its investigation.