US District Judge Raymond Dearie, who is serving as special master in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, demanded Thursday that Donald Trump’s lawyers justify another of the former president’s claims: that the FBI “seeded” records.
Dearie directed Trump’s legal team to submit by September 30 a list of specific items in the Justice Department’s 11-page inventory of documents taken from the Mar-a-Lago complex, including top-secret files, that “the Plaintiff claims they were not seized from the complex.” facilities.” They must also submit a list of items seized that were not in inventory, the order says.
“This presentation will be from the Plaintiff final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” said Dearie.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that FBI agents “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago when they seized several boxes of documents last month at his private club and residence. The boxes had been hidden there by the former president when he left office in January 2021. “Anyone want to plant information?” Trump asked on his Truth Social platform after the records were seized, likely before he had seen the inventory list.
However, Trump also said that he and members of his family watched on surveillance cameras as agents searched Mar-a-Lago and removed materials, raising the question of how the FBI could have secretly planted evidence at the same time. weather. Two Trump attorneys were also at Mar-a-Lago during the search, with one signing a list of boxes and “several top secret documents” that were removed.
Trump’s lawyers have not claimed in any legal filing that evidence was planted. Trump’s lawyers have also not claimed that any of the documents were declassified by the former president before they were taken from the White House, as Trump has insisted.
Only staunch Trump ally and former Pentagon official Kash Patel has publicly endorsed Trump’s claim that he issued a “standing order” to declassify anything removed from the White House. Trump insisted in an interview Wednesday with Fox News host Sean Hannity that he didn’t need to follow any process to do so and that he had the power to declassify documents simply by “thinking about it.”
Dearie ordered Trump’s legal team Tuesday to corroborate his claims that he had declassified any of the files he had taken. Trump’s lawyers have also not presented Trump’s position on the matter in any legal documents.
Lawyers have argued that they do not want to file a declassification case before an actual trial. But Dearie cautioned that if they don’t even claim the records were declassified and the Justice Department proves they were, then “as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.”
He added: “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”
At Trump’s request, a special master was appointed to review some 11,000 pages of documents to determine if any should be protected by attorney-client or executive privilege. Dearie’s name was put forward by Trump’s legal team.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Wednesday that the Justice Department can resume review the classified records seized, blocking a portion of a stay previously issued by US District Judge Aileen Cannon. The appeals court also barred Dearie from examining the documents marked classified.
Cannon, whose decision in favor of Trump to protect the records seized at Mar-a-Lago has been criticized by several legal experts, has modified his own order. Now states that the material subject to special master review no longer includes the “approximately one hundred documents with classification marks”.