Trump Lawyers Decline Special Master Requests on Document Declassification Details

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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.

By Frank Fang

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