DOJ Offers Special Principal Examination System for Mar-a-Lago Documents
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump signaled Monday that they object to having to immediately disclose the declassification related to the Mar-a-Lago documents under the special procedure ordered by a federal judge this month.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who was asked to serve as an independent third party to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of the former president’s residence and compound, attorneys of Trump referred to a non-public draft plan for the review. which Dearie circulated among the parties ahead of a status conference scheduled for Tuesday.
The draft plan, according to Trump’s letter, “requires the plaintiff to disclose specific information regarding the declassification to the Court and the government.”
“We respectfully submit that the time and place of the affidavits or statements would be related to a motion under Rule 41 which specifically alleges declassification as part of its argument for the return of property,” the court said. letter, referring to a type of petition that can be filed requesting the return of property illegally seized during a search.
“Otherwise, the Special Master’s process will have forced the plaintiff 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,” the letter continued. of the Trump team.
In her ruling denying prosecutors’ request for a stay last week, Judge Aileen Cannon ordered that the special main examination – conducted by Dearie and involving approximately 11,000 documents – be completed by the end of November. The pretrial conference is scheduled in front of Dearie on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
In their filing, the former president’s attorneys also raised concerns about the draft plan’s apparent proposal to have the Rule 41 motions heard in the case before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, Judge who approved the FBI search warrant. Trump’s attorneys argued that Cannon, a Trump appointee who appointed the special master, intended for this litigation to proceed through the special master process, with Dearie’s recommendations ultimately reported to him.
Trump’s lawyers, in their letter to Dearie, also suggested pushing back some of the tentative deadlines set out in the draft plan.
“While we have concerns about the inclusion of two aspects in the draft plan (timing of any declassification disclosures and briefing regarding return to the issuing magistrate), we are otherwise generally in agreement with the sequencing proposed by Your Honor, but suggest addressing potential delays at tomorrow’s status conference,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
In a separate filing on Monday, the Justice Department proposed a system for the special master to review documents seized from Trump’s Palm Beach residence and compound.
In order for the Trump team and prosecutors to assess the evidence at the same time, prosecutors suggested in the filing that the documents be uploaded to a third-party online platform.
The Justice Department suggested the third-party vendor “distribute” the documents as they are scanned to prosecutors and Trump’s defense team. Lawyers should plan to sort through about 500 documents each business day, the DOJ said.
At the start of the review, prosecutors suggested that Dearie hold “weekly reviews” with both sides to “resolve issues and ensure the review process runs smoothly.”
The department also said it would propose a protective order for Cannon’s approval, which makes leaking details of the seized collection subject to contempt of court “or such other legally available sanction as the Court deems appropriate.” .
In its filing, the DOJ noted that if the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit grants its request to block portions of Cannon’s order requiring a special master, Dearie would not be allowed to review the more than 100 documents marked classified.
“If the Eleventh Circuit does not suspend review of documents with classification marks, the government will propose a way forward,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
This story was updated with additional developments on Monday.