Trump legal team balks at judge’s declassification questions


Trump has claimed without evidence that all records have been declassified; His attorneys have not repeated that claim, although they have asserted that a president has absolute authority to release information.

donald trumpAn aerial view of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida on August 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Donald Trump’s legal team has told a newly appointed independent arbitrator that it does not want to answer his questions about the declassification status of the documents seized from the former president’s Florida home last month, saying the matter is part of Trump’s defense could be if he is charged.

Lawyers for Trump and the Justice Department are scheduled to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday before a senior judge, who was appointed special master last week, to review the roughly 11,000 documents — including about 100 marked as classified — found during the FBI’s raid were recorded on August 8th by Mar-a-Lago.

Before the status conference, Raymond Dearie, the special master, asked the two sides to come up with a proposed agenda and also presented a draft plan of how he envisioned the process over the next two months.

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Trump’s attorneys signaled their objection to several aspects of the draft plan in a letter Monday night, including a request from Dearie to disclose information to him and the Justice Department about the classification status of the seized documents. The opposition to the judge’s request was notable because it was the Trump team, and not the Justice Department, that requested the appointment of a special master to conduct an independent review of the documents so that any material affected by a claim for legal privilege , can be separated from the investigation — and because the Trump team’s recalcitrance included an admission that the investigation could be indictment-based.

Trump has claimed without evidence that all records have been declassified; His attorneys have not repeated that claim, although they have asserted that a president has absolute authority to release information.

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In the letter, Trump’s attorneys say the time to answer that question would be when they file a request for the Justice Department to return some of the property taken from Mar-a-Lago.

“Otherwise, the Special Master Proceedings would have required the plaintiff to disclose a defense fully and specifically to the merits of a later indictment,” the attorneys wrote.

The Trump team also asked the judge to postpone any deadlines for his review. Also on Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers were scheduled to respond to a Justice Department’s appeal against another judge’s order that barred the department, at least temporarily, from using the classified information it had seized in its criminal investigation.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, in the same order in which she appointed the special master, directed the department to cease using the records until Dearie can complete his work.



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