A court-appointed “special master” said on Tuesday that he has a very straightforward test for determining whether he sides with the Department of Justice in the dispute between former president Donald Trump and the FBI over its search of Mar-a-Lago, which has now moved from South Florida to New York City.
The special master, Raymond J. Dearie, stated on Tuesday that he will side with the DOJ if Trump’s attorneys don’t formally contest whether the materials the former president took are classified.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it,” he said.
Dearie, a Brooklyn-based semi-retired federal judge serving in the capacity of the interim referee, wants to expedite the procedure and refocus federal agents. Dearie is telling Trump to put up or shut up while Trump has been claiming on social media that he has already declassified the documents he stole from the White House. The senior judge wants Trump’s lawyers to specify whether or not Trump truly declassified them in sworn affidavits, where lying may result in jail time, reports the Daily Beast.
Although Dearie stated he wouldn’t “hurry,” he did add that time was of importance.
Additionally, he advised Trump’s legal team not to play it safe in order to minimize blunders and oversharing potentially damaging facts.
“This is not a criminal case. The plaintiff has the burden of establishing his right to relief,” he said.
Dearie wasn’t having it when Trump’s attorney James M. Trusty said his group “shouldn’t be in a situation where we have to divulge… declassification defenses.”
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Dearie shot back.
The Department of Justice is tasked with reviewing the seized documents and determining which ones can be used to support its case against the former president for endangering the country by keeping more than 100 classified documents at his Palm Beach club after leaving office. Dearie is in charge of doing this.
Following an odd intervention by a federal judge Trump chose himself, the FBI’s investigation—a delicate project that might lead to criminal charges against a former president for the first time in American history—has come to an end. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida responded to Trump’s requests when he sued the former administration of the United States earlier this month and handed Trump what he wanted in a ruling that was roundly ridiculed for its intellectual acrobatics.
Trump sought the return of documents while waving his expired credentials, claiming they were shielded by the “executive privilege” accorded to presidents or the customary “attorney-client privilege” that protects the confidentiality of legal communications. In order to obtain that, his attorneys demanded special treatment and the appointment of an arbitrator to act as a referee in the handling of a number of Trump’s personal belongings as well as hundreds of government documents. A “special master” who reports to Cannon was appointed after she halted the probe.
Trump’s legal team proposed two candidates: Dearie, a reputable federal judge who once authorized the FBI’s surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page, and Florida attorney Paul Huck Jr., who has a clear conflict of interest because he is married to a conservative federal appellate judge who could preside over appeals in this case. The Justice Department offered two candidates, but Dearie was chosen.
A massive mound of evidence will be sorted through by the senior judge in Brooklyn, who was previously Brooklyn’s top federal prosecutor and was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan. According to the Justice Department, 11,000 papers are under dispute.