Special master has a simple test that could spell disaster for Trump

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Former President Donald Trump’s battle with the FBI over his search for Mar-a-Lago has moved from South Florida to New York City, where a court-appointed “special master” indicated Tuesday that he has a very simple test to decide whether to side with the Ministry of Justice.

The special master, Raymond J. Dearie, said Tuesday that if Trump’s attorneys don’t officially contradict whether the documents the former president took with him are secret, Dearie will side with the DOJ.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end,” he said.

Dearie, a semi-retired Brooklyn federal judge who plays the role of temporary arbitrator, wants to speed up the process and get federal agents back on track. And while Trump claims on social media that he has already released the records he stole from the White House, Dearie is demanding that Trump either shut up or shut up. The senior judge asks Trump’s team to allege — in affidavits where lies could mean jail time — whether Trump actually released them.

Dearie said she wouldn’t “rush,” but noted that time is of the essence.

Dearie also warned Trump’s lawyers to exercise restraint to avoid making mistakes and over-sharing potentially damning information.

“This is not a criminal case. The claimant has the burden of establishing his right to assistance,” he said.

When Trump attorney James M. Trusty argued that his team “shouldn’t be in a position where we have to…disclose declassification defenses,” Dearie was none the wiser.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” Dearie replied.

Dearie is tasked with reviewing and analyzing the seized documents which may continue to be used by the Justice Department to build his case against the former president for endangering the nation by endangering more than 100 classified documents long after. his departure to keep in his Palm Beach club office.

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The FBI’s investigation — a delicate undertaking that could lead to criminal charges against a former president for the first time in US history — has stalled after a bizarre intervention by a federal judge appointed by Trump himself. When Trump sued the United States government he once led, Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon answered his pleas earlier this month and, in an opinion widely criticized for his intellectual gymnastics, gave Trump exactly what he wanted.

Trump brandished his expired credentials and demanded the return of documents he claimed were protected by a president’s “executive privilege” or by the traditional “lawyer-client privilege” that keeps legal correspondence private. To get that, his lawyers requested special treatment and the appointment of an arbitrator to arbitrate over the handling of hundreds of government files and some of Trump’s personal items. Cannon froze the investigation, calling for the appointment of a “special master” to respond directly to her.

Trump’s legal team proposed two candidates: Paul Huck Jr., a Florida attorney with a clear conflict of interest because he is married to a conservative federal appellate judge who can oversee appeals in the case, and Dearie, a respected federal appellate judge. federal judge who once approved the FBI surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page. The Justice Department suggested two of its own, but agreed to go with Dearie.

Brooklyn’s highest-ranking judge, who was once appointed by former President Ronald Reagan as Brooklyn’s top federal prosecutor, will begin sifting through a gigantic mountain of evidence. The Ministry of Justice says it has 11,000 documents.

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Cannon’s order dictates that Dearie must distinguish between Trump’s “personal items,” official presidential documents that may be subject to “executive privilege” even when he is out of the office, and classified documents. Dearie also needs to verify that the FBI’s “Detailed Property Inventory” of things she seized in Mar-a-Lago is actually accurate. He will hear from both sides, make an independent assessment and send his recommendations in reports to Cannon in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Dearie has been given wide discretion as he can seek answers from the government agency that started it all: the National Archives and Records Administration. Historians there, tasked with building an accurate record of each presidency, were alarmed last year to learn that the Trump administration simply refused to hand over some material on its way out. What followed were months of negotiations, an awkward visit to Mar-a-Lago to pick up boxes that should never have been there, and finally a referral to the FBI when Trump’s lawyers stopped answering questions.

The DOJ began the investigation, formed a grand jury in the nation’s capital and sent subpoenas seeking return of classified records. Even the chief of counterintelligence got involved and went south in May to see for himself. What he and visiting FBI agents saw there heightened their concern, leading to the FBI’s raid in August.

Dearie’s assessment is meant to be limited to that FBI search, though anything he finds could have lasting implications for the investigation — and lead Trump to admit a crime.

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Writing Monday evening, Trump attorney James Trusty Dearie warned that his requests for additional details have already gone well beyond Cannon’s injunction and would force Team Trump “to fully and specifically release a defense of the merits of a subsequent indictment.”

Dearie also shows that he wants to speed things up. Although Cannon instructed Dearie to complete his review by Nov. 30, court records show that Dearie actually wants all records labeled and ready for review by Oct. 7. That could mean seeing action — and potentially devastating conclusions — ahead of this year ‘s Election Day .

To add to this sting, Trump has been ordered to pay Dearie’s salary in the meantime.

This legal battle is actually going on two fronts, with the FBI and Trump fighting it out in Brooklyn, while Cannon’s entire special master’s settlement is on appeal at the Eleventh Circuit of Atlanta, Georgia.

The DOJ appealed its decision on Sept. 9. On Tuesday at noon, just before the special hearing in Brooklyn, Trump’s attorneys told the appeals court on a file that this entire case is nothing but “a dispute over the storage of documents that are out of control.”

“The government is falsely seeking to criminalize the 45th president’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” they wrote.

That means judges in Florida, Georgia and New York — and perhaps even the Supreme Court in Washington at some point — will decide who exactly owns these White House records and classified documents.

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