Trump Lawyers Decline Special Master Requests on Document Declassification Details
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team has rejected a request to disclose details about his claims of having declassified the documents seized by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago residence in the upcoming proceedings.
In a court filing (pdf) on Sept. 19, Trump’s legal team told Judge Raymond Dearie—a Brooklyn-based senior judge serving as an independent arbiter to review the documents—that making such a disclosure was not a requirement of District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s order when appointing Dearie as special master and could disadvantage the plaintiff.
“[T]he Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order,” the court filing says.
Trump’s legal team made the statement in reference to a “draft case management plan” that Dearie circulated among the two parties ahead of the Mar-a-Lago review. Dearie will hold a “preliminary conference” for the parties at his Brooklyn courthouse at 2 p.m. local time on Sept. 20.
The draft case management plan, according to the court filing, “requires that the Plaintiff disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government.”
Trump’s attorneys argued that their client would do better to make the disclosure together with a motion seeking the recovery of property.
“We respectfully submit that the time and place for affidavits or declarations would be in connection with a Rule 41 motion that specifically alleges declassification as a component of its argument for return of property,” the court filing says.
The FBI raid on Aug. 8 ended with FBI agents seizing a total of 11,179 documents and other materials that weren’t marked classified, along with 103 documents marked classified, including some marked as top secret, according to an inventory released earlier this month.
Trump has publicly claimed that he had declassified the documents found at Mar-a-Lago that were marked as classified. Meanwhile, his lawyers said some of the documents fall under attorney-client privilege.
Trump’s lawyer also asked to revise Dearie’s draft plan of shortening the special master review period, contending that the proposed calendar “compresses the entirety of the inspection and labeling process to be completed by October 7, 2022.”
Cannon had ordered the review process to be completed by Nov. 30.
“[T]he Plaintiff has every interest in expeditiously moving forward on the document review, characterizations, and any ensuing litigation,” the court filing says. “With the Government’s help, in terms of access to the materials and clearance for Plaintiff’s attorneys, we believe the parties can meet the expected deadline of November 30.”
In a separate court filing (pdf) on Sept. 19, the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed that the documents be uploaded to an online platform hosted by a “third-party vendor” so that Dearie could review the documents in an “efficient and timely fashion,” while allowing both Trump’s legal team and prosecutors to evaluate them at the same time.
“The government proposes that the document-review vendor ‘batch out’ documents on a rolling basis as they are scanned so that the Parties can begin reviewing them promptly,” DOJ said.
The DOJ also proposed that about 500 documents be reviewed each business day.
Trump, who was in New York City when the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, has returned to his Florida residence. Writing on his Truth Social account on Monday, he said the residence “was ransacked” and in “far different condition than the way I left it.”
“I guess they don’t think there is a Fourth Amendment anymore, and to them, there isn’t. In any event, after what they have done, the place will never be the same,” Trump wrote.
September 20, 2022 at 05:09PM