New Special Petty Officer Federal Judge Raymond J. Dearie is assessing review mechanisms for approximately 11,000 documents, approximately 100 of which are classified, that were seized Aug. 8 when FBI agents executed a search authorized by the court in Trump’s residence. and private club.
Prosecutors say the search was necessary to recover highly sensitive national security documents, after months of dithering by Trump’s legal team over the classified documents he had after leaving the White House and leaving the White House. he had returned them all to the government. Officials say they are investigating several potential crimes, including the mishandling of national defense information and the concealment or destruction of government documents. Trump’s lawyers accuse the Justice Department of trying to turn a dispute with the National Archives and Records Administration into a criminal case.
Trump lawyers acknowledge Mar-a-Lago case could lead to impeachment
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee, agreed to Trump’s request for a special master — a neutral third-party legal expert — to review seized documents to determine which may be covered by claims of attorney-client privilege or the far more vague and contested assertion of executive privilege.
After Cannon named Dearie as special master, Dearie ordered both sides to appear in his courtroom on Tuesday to discuss document review mechanisms – even as the Justice Department appeals some parties of Cannon’s order. Prosecutors asked a higher court to stay Cannon’s decision that Dearie should review classified documents as well as unclassified documents, and that the FBI and Justice Department cannot use classified documents in connection with their criminal investigation while the special main examination is underway.
In a filing before Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers expressed concern that Dearie asked them questions that Cannon did not, including whether documents bearing classification marks were in fact classified. Lawyers argued that Trump – who had broad declassification powers when he was president – could be at a legal disadvantage if he answered those questions at this stage of the process.
Explaining whether Trump declassified the documents, the lawyers wrote, would be forcing Trump to “fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the district court order.” In raising this concern, the lawyers acknowledged at least the possibility that the former president or his aides could face criminal charges in the case.
Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly suggested in court documents that the former president could have declassified the documents – but they haven’t actually claimed he did.
The Washington Post reported that among the classified documents the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago was a document outlining a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the research. , who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.
Some of the documents seized detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely watched that only the president, some members of his cabinet, or a an official close to the Cabinet could authorize other government officials to know details about them, these people said.
Files that deal with these programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure information compartment, with a designated monitoring officer to keep a close eye on their location.
Barrett reported from Washington.