Trump’s legal team resists request to detail if he declassified 300 documents found at Mar-a-Lago
A court-appointed “special master” charged with reviewing classified documents seized in Mar-a-Lago and recommended by Donald Trump’s legal team has urged Trump to release information about whether the president released the documents as he claims to have done.
A letter from Trump’s team to Judge Raymond Dearie — one of two names they forwarded to a Florida judge who ruled in their favor about getting a special master — reveals that Judge Dearie asked them “specific information about release to the court and to the Government.’
That’s one place Trump’s legal team doesn’t want to go right now. Trump’s team of attorneys has declined to file legal files alleging that Trump released that material, even though Trump has publicly said he did.
In the files, including one from Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers continue to refer only to “classified documents” — suggesting they may not say so without explicitly stating it.
In a stunning statement, the team opposed the judge’s request, saying they did not want to be compelled to “fully and specifically disclose a defense of the grounds of a subsequent charge without such requirement being made clear in the warrant of the court.’
Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge, has been appointed special master to oversee the Mar-a-Lago investigation. The Trump team listed him as one of two recommendations for the position. According to a report, they believed he was a skeptic of the FBI
At the very least, that raises the possibility that they would want to use the declassification argument as a criminal defense defense if Trump were charged with improper possession of national security information after he left office.
It also raises the possibility that Trump’s decision to get a special master — a move the administration vehemently opposed because it said it could harm national security interests by delaying an investigation — could backfire. to work.
The Trump team also pushed back on the timeline, “respectfully” suggesting the “deadlines will be extended,” in a process that will last at least until November, as Dearie searches some 11,000 documents to determine which Trump’s team can keep away from detectives.
It was the first sign of how Dearie, a Reagan appointee who has been on the bench for decades, would act. Lawyers from both sides faced each other in the Brooklyn courtroom on Tuesday.
Dearie will look for documents that fall under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege after Judge Cannon rejected the government’s argument that a former president couldn’t make such a claim.
Former President Trump’s legal team, including Christopher M. Kise (center back), Jim Trusty (center right), Lindsey Halligan, Evan Corcoran (2nd right) arrive at the United States Courthouse, Brooklyn, New York for their first meeting the ‘special master’
Former President Trump’s legal team, including M. Evan Corcoran (left), Lindsey Halligan, opposed the judge’s urging for classification information in a legal filing
Documents seized during the August 8 search of Trump’s estate are pictured on August 30. Trump’s lawyers have declined to say in legal files whether Trump ordered them to release them while he was in office and in authority
Dearie signed the administration’s surveillance warrant for former Trump aide Carter Page, in a move Trump’s team believed would make him a skeptic of the FBI, Axios reported.
Trump’s lawyers have not explicitly said that he ordered the classified documents. They put the terms “classified” in quotes in legal records
It comes after axios reported two days ago that Dearie’s role in the FBI surveillance of former Trump associate Carter Page — Dearie signed the warrant — had made him a “deep skeptic” of the FBI.
Trump has long been furious about the surveillance at the start of the Russia investigation, calling it part of a “witch hunt” against him.
Dearie was a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for seven years. But the report did not quote any statements on the public record in which Dearie criticized the FBI.
Trump scolded the agency after a team of FBI agents crashed into Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, when Trump was not present.
National Archives officials have determined that 150 documents have been marked as classified in the first 15 boxes of material returned by Trump in January.
Justice Department officials recovered more documents in June, and after the FBI raid, it got another 100, for a total of about 300 documents marked as classified.
The government on Monday as long as Judge Dearie with a proposed agenda for their first meeting, as well as some of the mechanisms of how the special captain will review documents — even if the administration appeals Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling that empowered the special captain for boxes of documents seized in Mar-a-Lago during the FBI’s August 8 raid.
The government would provide seized documents to a seller, who would scan them into a single file under the supervision of the FBI.