Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have resisted revealing whether he declassified documents seized in an August FBI search of his Florida home as the US judge appointed to review the documents scheduled his first conference on the question on Tuesday.
Judge Raymond Dearie circulated a draft plan to both sides on Monday that sought details of the documents Trump allegedly declassified, as he claimed publicly and without evidence, although his attorneys did not claim in the court documents.
In a letter filed ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers argued that now was not the time and would compel him to reveal a defense to any subsequent impeachment — an acknowledgment the investigation could lead to. criminal charges.
Dearie, a senior federal judge in Brooklyn, was selected as an independent arbitrator known as the special master. He will help decide which of more than 11,000 documents seized in the Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home should be hidden from the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into alleged mishandling of the documents.
Dearie will recommend to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon which documents may fall under solicitor-client privilege or an assertion of executive privilege, which allows a president to withhold certain documents or information.
It’s unclear whether the review will proceed as instructed by Cannon, the Florida judge appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020 who ordered the review.
Trump is under investigation for keeping government records, some marked as highly classified, at the Palm Beach resort, his home after leaving office in January 2021. He has denied any wrongdoing and said without providing evidence that he thought the investigation was a partisan attack. .
On Friday, the Justice Department appealed part of Cannon’s decision, seeking to suspend the review of about 100 documents with classified marks and the FBI’s restricted access to them.
Federal prosecutors said the special main review ordered by the judge 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 with the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, opposing the government’s request and calling the Justice Department’s investigation “unprecedented and erroneous”.
“restore order out of chaos.”
In Cannon’s order appointing Dearie as a special master, she asked him to complete his exam by the end of November. She asked him to prioritize documents marked classified, although 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 called the special main process unnecessary because it has already conducted its own solicitor-client privilege review and set aside about 500 pages that might be admissible. He opposes a review of executive privilege, saying such a claim on the records would fail.
The August FBI raid came after Trump left office with government documents and did not return them, despite numerous government requests and a subpoena.
It is still unclear whether the government has all the records. The Justice Department said some classified documents may still be missing after the FBI recovered empty files with classification marks from Mar-a-Lago.