Trump continues to muddy the waters on whether the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago are classified


Former President Donald Trump told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that he should not have lifted a lower court judge’s hold on the Justice Department’s use of classified Mar-a-Lago documents in his criminal investigation, and continued to try to challenge it. the 100 documents at the center of the conflict are classified correctly.

Trump again refused to prove that he had declassified the documents before leaving office.

Trump told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he didn’t buy the Justice Department’s argument that the documents should remain classified pending government review. Trump said the Justice Department, in a previous filing with the appeals court, “assumes – without any evidence presented by either side – that the documents are, in fact, classified.”

Trump’s latest document emphasized a president’s authority to declassify records and suggested that the classification status of the documents should be considered ambiguous at this time.

“The government assumes again that the documents it thinks are classified are, in fact, classified and that their distinction is inviolable. However, the Government has yet to prove this critical fact,” Trump’s filing said.

The new filing comes after Trump’s lawyers told the chief judge Monday afternoon that they did not want to disclose at this time the details of whether the documents were declassified for the special master’s review.

Trump has said in media interviews that he declassified the White House documents he took to his Florida home, but his lawyers have stopped short of making that assertion in court.

The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s order halting the investigation pending a special master’s examination, and prosecutors have asked the Court of Appeals to declassify documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

In a filing with the 11th Circuit on Tuesday, Trump argued that “the District Court’s orders are a reasonable preliminary step in restoring order from chaos, and therefore this Court should deny the Government’s Motion.”

The case goes to the 11th Circuit after Trump sued for a special master — a third-party attorney — to review materials seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago last month, and the focus is now on who might work. about 100 intercepted records have been classified as top-ranked.

Prosecutors have argued that suspending the criminal investigation into them poses national security risks. They say the criminal investigation cannot be divorced from the intelligence community’s assessment of the documents that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has allowed to go forward. In court filings last week, the Justice Department rejected the idea that Trump could say any of the 100 records were his personal records, a claim Trump could have made while trying to keep the materials out of the hands of investigators. Additionally, the Justice Department has questioned how Cannon got involved in the dispute in the first place, arguing that the judge had no authority to block prosecutors from reviewing the documents.

The 11th Circuit’s case is being played out as the court’s appointed special master, Brooklyn-based Senior Judge Raymond Dearie, begins implementing his own review process. Later on Tuesday, he will hold a status meeting with the parties to discuss the next steps in the process.

In a letter sent to Dearie on Monday afternoon, the Trump team expressed resistance to explaining the documents Trump allegedly declassified at the start of the review.

This story is breaking and will be updated.