Special master in Mar-a-Lago case appears skeptical of Trump ‘declassification’ claims

The special master appointed to review documents of federal agents seized at former President Donald Trump’s Florida property appeared suspicious on Tuesday about Trump’s argument that he had made public various top-secret and other highly sensitive documents found there. Had given.

Special Master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Deery of New York, asked Trump’s lawyers for more information about which of the more than 100 sensitive documents federal agents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. would have been declassified. Trump’s lawyers told the judge in a letter on Monday night that they did not want to disclose the information yet because it would force him to prematurely “disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment”. could.”

At a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, Dearie said the case was a civil dispute, not a criminal one, but said he was taking the government’s concerns about national security seriously.

“Let’s not downplay the fact that we are dealing with classified information at least potentially legitimate. The government has a very strong obligation, as we all do, to see that this information Doesn’t fall into the wrong hands,” he said. Dearie, a former judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to a New York federal court.”

While Trump’s filing claimed that neither party showed that the documents were classified, Dearie said the government had presented “prima facie evidence” that the documents are, because they bear classification markings.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it,” Dearie said, “unless Trump’s team has some evidence to the contrary.”

Trump has claimed on social media that he has made public all the records he has, but his lawyers have yet to formally argue this in any swearing-in court.

Trump attorney James Trustee said that “we should not be in a position to disclose the declarations” and witness statements about the classification issue. Dearie suggested that not doing so could be problematic for his case.

“My idea is you can’t have your cake and eat it,” Dearie said.

Justice Department attorney Julie Edelstein said some of the documents are “so sensitive that even members of the team investigating potential crimes here have not yet been permitted to view these documents.” She said that while the trustees have a top-secret approval, even “it would not be enough to look at multiple documents in this case.”

The trustee called Edelstein’s argument “kind of surprising”. “It is a surprising twist that a lawyer has access to the documents that form the justification for his raid,” he said.

Dearie told Trump’s lawyer: “That’s something you need to know. And if you want to know, you’ll know.” He also suggested that he try to avoid reviewing some of the most sensitive documents – and that he would block Trump’s lawyers from viewing them, too.

“I don’t want to see the material — it’s probably sensitive material,” he said, adding that if he could give his recommendations to the judge, who asked him “without exposing myself or you to that material, I would do it.”

“On the other hand, if I can’t, we have to take another option,” he said.

Dearie said he would issue a scheduling order later Tuesday and noted that “there are 11,000 documents” on the issue, adding that “we have little time” to review them for privilege issues.

The trustee urged Dearie not to proceed too quickly. He said Trump’s team is “starting from the beginning” and would benefit from having “time to look at all the documents.”

US District Judge Eileen Cannon, a Trump-nominated judge in Florida, this month granted the former president’s request to appoint a special master to review the evidence and ask the Justice Department to halt criminal investigations into recovered documents pending review. ordered. Canon said any mishandling of the documents could lead to an assessment of damages, but the Justice Department said a criminal investigation is a necessary part of the assessment, and it appealed its order.

In a court filing Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers argued that the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals should reject the government’s request to stay Cannon’s decision, calling the investigation “both unprecedented and misguided” and This is flagged as “a document storage dispute”. of control.”

Trump’s bid was endorsed in an appeals court filing by a coalition of 11 Republican attorneys general, who “Sabotage” suggested Trump’s house was politically motivated and argued that the Cannon order should be dropped because of the “gamemanship” of the Biden administration. Most supported the suit challenging the 2020 election results which was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

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