Former President Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday argued against disclosing information on its claims that some of the documents taken from its client’s Florida Ma-a-Lago residence last month were declassified. File Photo via Department of Justice/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 19 (UPI) — Lawyers for Donald Trump pushed back against requests to explain their claims that documents with classified markings seized last month from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home were not necessarily classified, stating to do so would disclose their arguments for the return of the confiscated property.
The legal team for the former president voiced its disapproval against making the disclosure in a letter Monday night to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who has been appointed special master to review 11,000 documents, including more than 300 marked classified, taken from Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8.
The former president is being investigated by the Justice Department over the potential illegal collection and retention of national defense and classified records, and his lawyers have accused the federal prosecutors of assuming that documents with classified markings were classified, suggesting Trump had previously taken actions to declassified them.
The request for information about the declassification of the documents is part of the special master process, for which a preliminary conference is set for Tuesday to discuss the schedule.
Trump’s lawyers argued against the request Monday, stating there would be a “time and place” to explain the declassification of the documents — and that would be during the criminal trial concerning the return of their client’s property.
“Otherwise, the Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order,” the lawyers said in the Monday night filing.
The Justice Department has previously rebutted Trump’s legal team claims concerning the declassification of documents, stating that the former president’s lawyers are trying to raise questions on the status of records without specifically stating Trump had declassified records and without providing evidence.
“Plaintiff does not actually assert — much less provide any evidence — that any of the seized records bearing classification markings have been declassified,” the Justice Department said in the Sept. 13 filing.
Trump’s legal team had said the federal prosecutors’ stance “assumes that if a document has a classification marking, it remains classified irrespective of any actions taken during President Trump’s term in office.”
The court has suggested for the review of the documents to be completed by the end of November, and the Justice Department asked in its filing on Monday for a third-party vendor be brought in to scan, host and provide both parties access to the seized materials so they can simultaneously evaluate their status in order to meet the end date.
The Justice Department proposed that they process and log about 500 documents a day as the “vast majority of documents should be easy to categorize as presidential or personal records.”
The federal prosecutors also said the preliminary conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday is to occur hours after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is to rule on its appeal concerning a partial stay against the ruling that approved a special master in the case.
If granted, Dearie would be barred from reviewing no more than 100 of the documents with classified markings.
If dismissed, the government said it “will propose a way forward.”
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