Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master overseeing the seizure of Mar-a-Lago documents, told former President Donald Trump’s lawyers Tuesday that he would rule if he did not consider any documents declassified. they are classified
Outside court, Trump has alleged that all documents were declassified, and his lawyers have raised the possibility in court papers, though they have never explicitly argued that anything was declassified.
Federal prosecutors have argued for weeks that documents seized at Mar-a-Lago with classification marks — like “top secret” — should be treated as classified.
In a hearing on Tuesday, Dearie essentially called Trump’s bluff by pointing out that Trump’s lawyers have yet to provide evidence of declassification.
“If the government proves to me that they are classified documents, and if you do not advance a declassification claim, the case of classified documents remains prima facia for me, and as far as I am concerned, that is it. the end,” Dearie said.
Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, said they are not in a position to fully disclose their defense or specifically address the declassification issue until they see the documents.
Trump is before the special master after suing for review.
His team presented Dearie as a potential candidate for the job, and the Justice Department did not object.
Since Dearie stepped into the role, however, the Trump team has signaled some revisions to how it intended to approach the review.
On Monday, Trump’s lawyers expressed in a letter to Dearie their resistance to any move to declassify the documents. The letter also suggested delaying some of Dearie’s proposed interim deadlines.
Dearie is tasked with reviewing the 11,000 documents the FBI seized in last month’s search of Mar-a-Lago.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for a special master, also blocked the Justice Department from using the seized materials in its criminal investigation while the special master does his work. The Justice Department is asking an appeals court to partially suspend Cannon’s warrant as it relates to about 100 documents obtained by the FBI during the search.