Donald Trump’s legal team acknowledged that the ex-president could be facing criminal charges in the latest legal filing it made regarding the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago operation.
Trump’s team informed the special master late Monday night that they are hesitant to give details on the declassified matter because it may be used as a defense against future criminal prosecutions.
Trump’s lawyers stated that if they were required to reveal this declassification evidence, the Special Master process would have forced the Plaintiff “to fully and specifically disclose a defense against the merits any subsequent indictment, without such a requirement being apparent in the District Court order.”
Trump’s team appears to be seriously considering the possibility of him being indicted. The Justice Department has made clear that the Mar-a-Lago scandal is a serious criminal investigation. Although it isn’t yet clear if the Justice Department will bring criminal charges against Trump (although William Barr, the former Attorney General, stated that the evidence appears to be trending in this direction).
In unsealed court filings, it was revealed that Trump is under investigation for violating the Espionage Act and other laws regarding obstruction of justice. A federal judge appointed a special master to halt the FBI’s ability to use records seized from Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation.
Trump and his associates have repeatedly claimed that he had declassified all documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort before they were raided by FBI agents in August. However, those arguments have not been included in Trump’s court filings.
Trump’s lawyers stated Monday that “The Draft Plan requires the Plaintiff to disclose specific information about declassification to both the Court and the Government.” “We respectfully submit, that the time and location for affidavits/declarations would be in connection to a Rule 41 motion that specifically alleges that declassification is a component of its argument to return property.” Rule 41 refers to motions to dismiss cases.
Trump appointee Judge Aileen Clinton appointed the special master. She had been suggested previously by the former president. Cannon stated that she didn’t think it was appropriate to simply accept the DOJ’s claim that 100 records seized by the FBI were classified government documents. She ruled that the special master should focus her attention on that small batch of records to determine if they are classified.
For its part, the Justice Department has made clear in court filings, that despite Trump’s public claims regarding declassification, Trump’s lawyers have not specifically made declassification claims in federal courts.
Raymond Dearie was the one who signed the FISA warrant against Carter Page’s campaign associate. He was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge. Both Trump’s team, as well as the Justice Department, referred to a “Draft Plan” Dearie had given them before a Tuesday afternoon hearing in his Brooklyn federal courtroom.
On Monday, the Justice Department informed Dearie that it had applied to the Court of Appeals for a stay. If Cannon’s ruling regarding documents with classification markings is upheld by the appeals court, Dearie will not be able to review the documents. However, if that happens, “the government will suggest a way forward.”