Lawyers for former President Donald Trump resisted disclosing whether he had declassified material seized in an August FBI search of his Florida home, as a US judge appointed to review the documents on Tuesday gave his first hearing on the matter. The conference was planned.
Judge Raymond Deary circulated a draft plan to both sides on Monday in which Trump sought details on allegedly declassified documents, as he claimed publicly and without evidence, though his lawyers did not claim that in court filings. has done.
In a letter filed ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers argued that this is not the time and would force him to reveal a defense for any subsequent indictment — a confession that the investigation could lead to criminal charges.
Dearie, a senior federal judge in Brooklyn, was selected as an independent arbitrator known as a Special Master. He will help decide which of the more than 11,000 documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home should be kept from the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into alleged mishandling of documents.
Dearie will recommend to US District Judge Eileen Cannon which documents may fall under a claim of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, which allows the president to withhold certain documents or information.
It is unclear whether the review will proceed in 2020 as directed by Trump’s bench-appointed Florida Judge Cannon, who ordered the review.
Trump is under investigation for keeping government records at his home, the Palm Beach resort, after leaving office in January 2021. He has denied wrongdoing and said he believes the investigation is a partisan attack.
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The Justice Department appealed part of Canon’s decision Friday, which sought a review of nearly 100 documents with classified markings and a judge restricting access to the FBI.
Federal prosecutors said the judge-ordered special master review would prevent the government from addressing national security risks and force the disclosure of “highly sensitive material.”
On Tuesday, Trump’s legal team filed its response in the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, opposing the government’s request and calling the Justice Department’s investigation “unprecedented and misguided.”
In their 40-page filing, Trump’s lawyers said the court should not take the Justice Department at word that the nearly 100 documents in question are in fact still classified, and said the special master should be allowed to review them. needed. Restoring order from chaos. ,
In order for Canon to appoint Dearie as Special Master, he asked him to finish his review by the end of November. She instructed him to give priority to documents marked classified, though his process calls for Trump’s attorney to review the documents, and Trump’s lawyers may not have the necessary security clearance.
The Justice Department has deemed the special master process unnecessary, as it has already conducted its attorney-client privilege review and set aside approximately 500 pages that may qualify. It opposes an executive privilege review, saying any such claim on record would fail.
The August FBI search came after Trump left office with documents related to the government and did not return them, despite multiple requests from the government and a subpoena.
It is still not clear whether the government has all the records. The Justice Department has said that some classified material may still be missing after the FBI recovered empty folders bearing classification markings from Mar-a-Lago.