Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against a plan by the special master overseeing the review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago that would require Trump to declare in court whether the Justice Department’s inventory from the search is accurate.
The requested affidavit would force the former president to go to court over his suggestion that the FBI may have planted evidence during the Aug. 8 search.
Trump’s objection to the request for the statement was made public Wednesday night in a lawsuit filed by his lawyers after the Justice Department vaguely discussed his opposition in a public submission to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who is acting as special master, on Tuesday night.
Trump’s team argued that the court order appointing Dearie only cited an affidavit by an official confirming the Justice Department’s search warrant, and that there was no such reference to an affidavit by Trump. In the newly public filing, which was a letter sent privately to Dearie Sunday, Trump said he had to object to the claim “because the Special Master’s case management schedule exceeds the authority of the District Court in this matter.”
“Furthermore, Plaintiff currently has no ability to access the classified documents that would be necessary to complete such certification by September 30, the currently proposed date of completion,” Trump said.
The former president’s team also argued that Dearie is overstepping his authority by requesting that the documents from the search be logged in categories more specific than what U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for the review, contemplated in her appointment order.
Trump also expressed his opposition to giving Dearie a briefing on whether certain legal decisions related to the search were best left to the judge who approved the warrant.
Sunday’s objection letter to Dearie was made public with a Wednesday filing from the Trump team, in which they told the special master that documents from the search amount to 200,000 pages of material. The amount of material seized hasn’t grown significantly since prosecutors first sifted through it on the day of the search — but the Trump team, now understanding the number of pages in each document, is worried about how quickly they’ll have to work through it collection.
The Trump team wants extra time to work through the large volume of documents — after they were previously characterized as 11,000 items or documents by the Justice Department, three of Trump’s lawyers wrote in a letter to Dearie on Wednesday.
The Justice Department is investigating whether a crime was committed or whether national security was harmed because Trump and others had federal and classified government records among the hundreds of thousands of unsecured pages at the Florida beach club after he left the presidency.
In recent days, the special master’s process has prompted the Trump team and the Justice Department to try to hire a service that can digitally host the documents so they can be processed. Earlier this week, the department said in a lawsuit that Trump’s team had indicated that the data hosting companies did not want to work with the former president.
His team now says the problem is the size of the evidence collection.
“In conversations between plaintiff’s counsel and the government regarding a data supplier, the government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages. The estimated volume, with a need to operate under the accelerated time frames supported by the government, is why so many of the government’s selected suppliers have declined the potential engagement,” Trump’s team wrote Wednesday.
Trump also complained in his Wednesday letter to Dearie that lawyers working on the investigation may have been exposed to a small number of confidential attorney-client communications before either the department’s filter team or the special master could review.