September 28, 2022

Trump lawyers declined to say whether he had classified documents in the FBI search

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NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) – As former President Donald Trump plans to hold his first convention on Tuesday, his lawyers objected to revealing whether he had classified items seized in an August FBI raid of his Florida home.

Judge Raymond Deary distributed a draft plan to both sides on Monday that demanded details of documents Trump allegedly classified, as Trump has said publicly and without evidence, though his attorneys have not pressed for it in court filings.

In a letter filed ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s attorneys argued that this was not the time and acknowledged that the investigation could lead to criminal charges.

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Deary, a senior federal judge in Brooklyn, was selected as an independent arbitrator known as a special master. He will help decide which of the more than 11,000 documents seized in the Aug. 8 raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home should be protected from a Justice Department criminal investigation into alleged document mishandling.

Deary will recommend to U.S. District Judge Eileen Cannon which documents might fall under the attorney-client privilege or the assertion of executive privilege, which allows a president to withhold certain documents or information.

It’s unclear whether the review will go forward as instructed by Florida Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020.

Trump has been under investigation for keeping government records at his Palm Beach resort after leaving office in January 2021. .

The Justice Department on Friday appealed part of Cannon’s ruling, seeking to stop the review of about 100 documents with classified identities and the judge’s restriction of FBI access.

Federal prosecutors said the special preliminary review ordered by the judge would prevent the government from addressing national security risks and force disclosure of “highly sensitive material.”

On Tuesday, Trump’s legal team filed its response with the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, opposing the government’s request and calling the Justice Department’s investigation “unprecedented and improper.”

In their 40-page filing, Trump’s lawyers said the court shouldn’t take the Justice Department’s word that about 100 documents are in fact still classified and that the special master should be allowed to review them. Restoring order from chaos.”

Canon’s order, which appointed Deary as special master, asked him to complete his review by the end of November. He advised that classified documents be prioritized, although his process calls for Trump’s counsel to review the documents, and Trump’s lawyers may not have the required security clearance.

The Justice Department has described the special prima facie process as unnecessary because it already devotes about 500 pages to its own attorney-client privilege review and eligibility. It opposes an administrative privilege review, saying such a commitment to records would fail.

The August FBI search came after Trump left office with government-owned documents, which he has not returned despite multiple government requests and subpoenas.

It is not yet clear whether the government has all the records. The Justice Department has said some classified material is still missing after the FBI recovered empty folders with classified markings from Mar-a-Lago.

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Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Sarah N. Additional report by Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham, David Gregorio and Chisu Nomiyama

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