Special Master expresses skepticism over Trump team claims

Trump argued that the 11,000 documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago were rightfully in his possession, including about 100 bearing classification marks suggesting they contain some of the most closely guarded intelligence in the country.

But Dearie bristled at Trump’s lawyers’ effort to resist her demand for proof that Trump did in fact attempt to declassify one of 100 documents the Justice Department recovered from his estate. Without evidence from Trump, Dearie said her only basis for judging the documents’ classification level was the fact that they all bear marks designating them as highly sensitive national security secrets – some of which indicate they contain intelligence. from human sources and foreign interceptions.

The early tension between Dearie and Trump’s legal team was an ominous sign for the former president, who demanded that the special master review the documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago and who proposed to Dearie – a person named in 1986 by Ronald Reagan – to get the job done. Prosecutors had offered two other names, but accepted Trump’s choice of Dearie.

Trump’s legal team entered the Brooklyn courthouse about half an hour before the hearing, braving mockery from a handful of protesters, including one shouting, “Charge Trump!”

A quieter atmosphere reigned in Dearie’s courtroom. Members of the press were seated in the jury box, prompting one of Trump’s lawyers to joke before the session began that the former president’s team had not accepted this set of jurors.

Dearie, 78, spoke succinctly to the parties during the 40-minute session. He noted that the current litigation filed by Trump is civil in nature, since no criminal charges have been filed, so the burden of proof is on Trump to support any assertion of privilege or other protected interest in the documents. .

Trump’s attorneys have asked Dearie to initiate the process of obtaining security clearances so they can review the allegedly classified documents.

But prosecutor Julie Edelstein told the judge that some of the records involved are so sensitive that members of the government’s investigative team have still not been cleared for the documents.

Whether any of the documents seized from Trump’s home are classified may ultimately be a side issue. The Justice Department stressed that the three potential crimes it is investigating do not depend on whether material held at Mar-a-Lago has been classified.

Still, Dearie’s comments on filing classification were particularly notable in light of a separate court filing from Trump, which urges a federal appeals court to uphold Cannon’s order barring the Justice Department from advance its criminal investigation into the files seized.

In that case, Trump’s lawyers argued that it was the Justice Department — not Trump — that bore the burden of showing that the documents seized last month were classified. Dearie dismissed that argument in her courtroom, saying all that mattered was the marks on the documents.


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