Special Master in Trump Case Says He Doesn’t Want to See Records Marked Classified

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‘I don’t want to see the material,’ judge says in first hearing after being appointed

A U.S. judge appointed as a special master in the legal battle over records held at former President Donald Trump’s home said on Sept. 20 that he prefers not to see the materials marked classified that were seized by FBI agents.

“Let’s not belittle the fact that we are dealing with at least potentially legitimately classified information. The government has a very strong obligation, as all of us, to see it to that that information doesn’t get in the wrong hands,” U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, a Reagan appointee, said during a hearing in federal court in New York City.

“It’s not just a matter, it seems to me, of being cleared. It is a matter of need to know. And if you need to know, you will know,” he added. “That’s the way I see it. If I can make my judgments without—I don’t want to see the material—it’s presumably sensitive material. If I can make my recommendation to Judge Cannon, right or wrong, without exposing myself or you to that material, I will do it. On the other hand, if I can’t, we have to take another alternative.”

Dearie was speaking in the first hearing held since U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, chose the judge as the special master in the Trump records case.

The U.S. government says it took 103 documents marked classified from Mar-a-Lago in August, along with over 11,000 non-classified documents. The government is trying to shield the documents from Trump’s lawyers and Dearie, while Trump’s team says it wants to see the papers.

“I believe we have a need to know, absolutely,” James Trusty, one of Trump’s attorneys, told Dearie during the hearing.

He said that issues surrounding the lawsuit Trump filed against the government cannot be fully addressed without having “some access” to the materials.

By Zachary Stieber

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