If Donald Trump thought the special master assigned to review records seized during an an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last month would do him some special favors, he was mistaken.
Federal Judge Raymond Dearie repeatedly chided the former president’s lawyers for refusing to provide evidence to back up Trump’s claim that all those highly sensitive documents related to national security that were discovered in his Florida residence and private club were actually declassified.
In a letter to Dearie on Monday night, the lawyers said that issue could be part of Trump’s defense if he’s indicted, according to The Associated Press.
However, Dearie seemed skeptical. He told Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday that if they will not actually assert that the records have been declassified and if the Justice Department makes an acceptable case that they remain classified, then “as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.”
“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” is how Dearie summed up his position.
Although Trump keeps claiming that all of the records believed to have been in his possession were declassified, his lawyers have not made that argument to the court, though they have repeatedly asserted that a president has absolute authority to declassify information.
Julie Edelstein, a Justice Department lawyer, told the court she was hopeful that the department could get the documents digitized and provided to Trump’s lawyers by early next week, according to the AP.
Edelstein also noted that the DOJ had given Trump’s legal team a list of five vendors approved by the government for the purposes of scanning, hosting and otherwise processing the seized records.
Dearie told Trump’s lawyers to agree on a vendor this week, according to The New York Times.
Trump’s lawyers argued in a separate filing on Tuesday that the Justice Department had not proved that the records remained classified.
“In the case of someone who has been president of the United States, they have unfettered access along with unfettered declassification authority,” James Trusty, one of Trump’s lawyers, said Tuesday.
Dearie reminded the lawyers that they were the ones with the burden of establishing the former president’s right to relief ― not the Department of Justice.
Dearie’s cake comments gave many Twitter users food for thought.
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