(PresidentialWire.com)- Last Tuesday the newly-appointed Special Master met for the first time with lawyers for former President Donald Trump and officials from the Justice Department in a Brooklyn federal court.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Brooklyn federal Judge Raymond Dearie, who was appointed special master in the ongoing case related to the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago, pressed Trump’s lawyers over whether they had any evidence that Trump declassified the documents seized by the FBI during the raid.
James Trusty, the former president’s attorney, told Dearie that the Trump defense team shouldn’t be forced, at this point, to disclose a possible defense based on the claim that the records were declassified before Trump left the White House.
This argument did not sit well with Judge Dearie who told the Trump team, “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”
Dearie said if the former president’s lawyers wouldn’t confirm whether the documents were declassified and the DOJ makes the case that the documents were classified, “as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.”
In papers filed before Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s attorneys indicated that they wouldn’t answer questions about the declassification status because it could be part of Trump’s defense should he be indicted.
Former President Trump has maintained that the records in his possession were declassified before he left office.
In his role as Special Master, Judge Dearie is tasked with reviewing the roughly 11,000 documents seized during the August 8 FBI raid to determine if any of them are subject to claims of attorney-client or executive privilege.
During Tuesday’s hearing, James Trusty suggested that by questioning the Trump team about its possible declassification defense, Judge Dearie was acting beyond the scope of Judge Aileen Cannon’s order.
A stunned Dearie said he was “taken aback” by Trusty’s accusation, telling Trump’s lawyer that he believes he is doing what he was told.
Dearie also suggested that he would move briskly in reviewing the documents, saying there was “little time” to complete the task amid the ongoing investigation into whether Trump illegally retained government records.