Trump lawyers asked to back up claims on seized documents
(NewsNation) — In a Thursday filing, Judge Raymond Dearie outlined his plan to review the materials seized at Mar-a-Lago and asked former President Donald Trump’s lawyers to provide proof of their allegations that the FBI planted evidence.
Dearie, serving as an independent arbiter known as a special master, asked the Justice Department to certify by Monday a detailed property inventory of materials the FBI seized in the search of Trump’s Palm Beach residence.
FBI agents searched the home Aug. 8 and seized troves of documents, including a set of about 100 classified records.
Dearie also asked Trump’s lawyers to submit by Sept. 30 a list of specific items in that inventory “that plaintiff asserts were not seized from the premises.” Dearie asked them to submit any corrections to the government’s list by that date, including items they believe were seized at Mar-a-Lago but not listed in the inventory.
“This submission shall be plaintiff’s (Trump’s) final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” Dearie wrote.
A federal appeals court Wednesday granted the Justice Department’s request to block the special master from reviewing classified documents that were seized in the search.
Dearie, however, will still be allowed to review the other approximately 11,000 documents that were taken to determine which are protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.
The appeals court ruling also gives the DOJ the green light to resume its criminal investigation into how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago.
The appeals court also pointedly noted that Trump had presented no evidence that he had declassified the sensitive records, as he has maintained.
Contrary to remarks Trump made in a TV appearance Wednesday, his former adviser, John Bolton, told NewsNation that the president can’t just “think” about declassifying government documents.
On Tuesday, Trump’s team resisted a request from Dearie to expound on Trump’s declassification claim. Dearie indicated that he would accept the government’s position if Trump’s team didn’t provide any evidence that the former president declassified the documents.
NewsNation senior contributor George Will joined “Rush Hour” to discuss the circumstances surrounding the case.
“Presidential power is presumptively at its maximum — and presidential discretion is presumptively least fettered — when dealing with national security, which is what we’re dealing with classified information,” Will said. “However, if there is no process. If a president can declassify something, as Mr. Trump says, by just thinking about it, this is time for Congress to say. ‘We’re gonna need a process.'”
Watch the full interview with George Will in the video player at the top of that page.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.