The Mar-a-Lago special master on Thursday ordered Donald Trump’s lawyers to state in a court filing whether they believe FBI agents lied about documents seized from the former president’s Florida residence in a court-authorized search last month, or claimed to have taken items that were not actually in Trump’s possession.
In a Thursday afternoon filing, U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie — the special master — told Trump’s legal team to state by Sept. 30 whether they believe any of the seized items were incorrectly described in the Justice Department’s 11-page inventory list, which said some of the documents were highly classified. Dearie also told them to say whether they are claiming that any items on the inventory list were not in fact taken from the premises.
Trump has said on social media and in television interviews that the FBI planted items when they searched his Mar-A-Lago residence and private club on Aug. 8. He also claimed to have declassified documents found in that search that were marked classified and were highly sensitive. His lawyers have not made similar assertions in court, however, instead saying they have not reviewed the seized materials and are unable to confirm whether the government’s inventory list is accurate.
Put Up Or Shut Up Time
Trump has put forth various conflicting excuses for why federal agents found hundreds of documents marked classified in a storage room at the Palm Beach resort where he now resides. He’s said they were planted by the FBI. He’s said he was just bringing work home, like all presidents do. He’s said he declassified them under a “standing order” that no one else from his administration seems to remember. He’s said the documents were covered by attorney-client privilege, and also that he had a right to them under the executive privilege he held while in office.
But Dearie isn’t having it. The plan he handed down Thursday insists on answers from Team Trump about the spurious claims they continue to float. On Wednesday evening, Trump added another one, telling Fox News pundit Sean Hannity that a U.S. president can declassify top secret material simply “by thinking about it.”