Donald Trump’s attorneys said in a filing Monday night that they don’t want to disclose to a court-appointed special master which Mar-a-Lago documents they assert the former president may or may not have declassified.
In a four-page letter to the special master, Trump’s attorneys pushed back against Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie’s apparent proposal that they submit “specific information regarding declassification” to him in the course of his review.
Dearie issued an order Friday summoning both parties to the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, for a preliminary conference Tuesday.
Trump’s attorneys have claimed that until or unless they decide to fight the FBI search warrant or if they decide to offer it as a defense following any potential indictment, they shouldn’t have to disclose details about declassification that would also be shared with the Justice Department.
On his Truth Social platform last month, Trump said, “It was all declassified.” But legal experts have pointed out that it may be irrelevant whether the documents were declassified or not depending on what, if any, charges are filed.
In their own letter to Dearie on Monday, Justice Department lawyers proposed that the special master’s review of the nonclassified material begin at once by scanning all the seized documents and having Trump’s legal team review about 500 pages a day, marking them as privileged or not so prosecutors can agree or disagree and forward them to the special master for his ultimate determination.
Federal prosecutors also suggested that also among the seized materials were “[n]on-documentary items (e.g., items of clothing)” that would be made available to Trump’s counsel and the special master for review at the FBI’s Washington field office.
A separate federal judge set a deadline of Nov. 30 for Dearie to conclude his review and classifications, although the two sides have different thoughts about deadlines for the review and challenges to be argued within the window.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.