Dearie meets with Trump lawyers, Justice Dept., on Mar-a-Lago search

NEW YORK – Donald Trump’s lawyers meet at a Brooklyn federal courthouse on Tuesday with Justice Department prosecutors and the special counsel appointed at the former president’s request to review documents seized from his Florida home .

In a remarkable admission on Monday, Trump’s lawyers acknowledged that the investigation into the documents could lead to an indictment, arguing that any attempt to have Trump explain now whether he had declassified some of the documents seized would be forcing the former president to “fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the district court order.”

In raising this concern, the lawyers acknowledged at least the possibility that the former president or his aides could face criminal charges in the case. Trump’s legal team has repeatedly suggested in court documents that the former president could have declassified the documents – but they haven’t actually claimed he did.

Trump lawyers acknowledge Mar-a-Lago case could lead to impeachment

New special master Federal Judge Raymond J. Dearie is evaluating review mechanisms for approximately 11,000 documents, about 100 of which have classified marks, that were taken Aug. 8 when FBI agents executed a search authorized by the Trump court. residence and private club.

His first meeting with the two sides began at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the search was necessary to recover highly sensitive national security documents, after months of dithering by Trump’s legal team over the classified documents he had in his possession after leaving the White House and whether he had returned them all to the government. Officials say they are investigating several potential crimes, including the mishandling of national defense information and the concealment or destruction of government documents.

Trump’s lawyers accuse the Justice Department of trying to turn a dispute with the National Archives and Records Administration into a criminal case.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee, agreed to Trump’s request for a special master — a neutral third-party legal expert — to review seized documents to determine which may be covered by claims of attorney-client privilege or the far more vague and contested assertion of executive privilege.

After Cannon named Dearie as special master, Dearie ordered both sides to appear in his courtroom on Tuesday to discuss document review mechanisms – even as the Justice Department appeals some parties of Cannon’s order.

Prosecutors asked a higher court to stay Cannon’s decision that Dearie should review classified documents as well as unclassified documents, and that the FBI and Justice Department cannot use classified documents in connection with their criminal investigation while the special main examination is underway.

On Tuesday, Trump’s legal team responded to that argument, reiterating their suggestion that prosecutors may be wrong about whether the 100 documents at the heart of the case are classified.

“The government again presupposes that the documents it claims to be classified are, in fact, classified and that their segregation is inviolable. However, the government has yet to prove this critical fact,” Trump’s brief asserts.

The Washington Post reported that among the classified documents the FBI recovered from Mar-a-Lago was a document outlining a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the search. , who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.

Some of the documents seized detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely watched that only the president, some members of his cabinet, or a an official close to the Cabinet could authorize other government officials to know details about them, these people said.

Files that deal with these programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure information compartment, with a designated monitoring officer to keep a close eye on their location.

Barrett reported from Washington.

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