In a just-unsealed filing, the Justice Department asked the special master reviewing thousands of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago for attorney-client and other privileges to force the former president donald trump verify the inventory by means of an affidavit.
Such an order would require Trump to affirm or challenge the authenticity of documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago in August on record and under penalty of perjury. It would also force the former president to provide evidence for his insinuations that documents may have been withheld.
“The Special Master has received an Affidavit of Accuracy from the Government. Since the Court appointed the Special Master to ensure the fairness, integrity and impartiality of the review process […]the plaintiff should be required to verify or correct the inventory of assets, just as the government has done,” the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said. Jay I. Bratt wrote in a 20 page folder.
Filed under seal Nov. 8 and released Monday, the document summarizes the government’s arguments on the legal issues before the senior U.S. district judge. Raymond Cheriethe special master advised by Trump and appointed by U.S. District Judge Cannon Aileen to preside over the lien review.
In late September, Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee, previously armored the former president of the order of Dearie who allegedly made him file objections to the inventory, its descriptions or its contents.
But Cannon’s order, on the face of it, was a temporary measure, stating that she was only canceling Dearie “at this point.”
“There will be no separate requirement on [Trump] at this stage, prior to the review of the seized materials, to file any final ex ante objections to the accuracy of the [the government’s] inventory,” Cannon wrote.
The Justice Department pointed to the carefully qualified language of Cannon’s decision, noting that it “allows the Special Master to reimpose the requirement that the plaintiff verify or correct the inventory of property after the plaintiff has had opportunity to examine the materials seized”.
“The court order of September 29, 2022 did not disagree in principle with the requirement that the plaintiff verify or correct the inventory of property,” the government legal brief states. “Instead, the Court relieved the plaintiff of the obligation to verify or correct the inventory before he had the opportunity to examine the seized materials.”
About two months later, according to the government, that time has come.
“Now that the plaintiff has reviewed the documents seized and has asserted that the overwhelming majority of them are his personal records, considerations of fairness, integrity and impartiality compel the plaintiff to do what the government has fact – namely, checking the inventory of goods or correcting it if he thinks it is in error,” the brief continues. “A fair process requires both parties to ensure that the special master adjudicates disputes regarding property actually seized at Mar-a-Lago.”
Although large passages of the ruling remain redacted, the government revealed that Trump only asserted that a portion of the cases under review were eligible for attorney-client or executive privilege.
“Plaintiff claimed attorney-client privilege for only one document of the 2,916 documents at issue here, and Plaintiff claimed executive privilege for only 121 documents,” the filing says. “With respect to the remaining 2,794 documents, the plaintiff is not claiming any privilege that would prevent the government from reviewing and using these documents for the purposes of its ongoing criminal investigation.”
The Justice Department wants an order allowing them to use these files for their ongoing investigation, in addition to the approximately 100 documents with classification marks that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has already authorized them to use. Government argues Trump’s lawyers provided ‘too broad’ description of his personal records; Trump’s legal team’s recently unsealed brief suggests he believes “pardon packages” are considered personal rather than presidential records.
“Finally, the parties were also asked to inform the question of ‘[w]whether certain groups of documents (for example, pardon files) are presidential files. » » Trump’s lawyer Lindsey Halligan wrote. “There is no reason to conclude that any of the documents carried to Mar-a-Lago are presidential documents. As described above, once a president has designated a file as personal – as it s occurred here – the investigation ends regardless of the contents of any given document. As noted, to the extent NARA disagrees with the designation process, its remedy is to bring an action. civil.
The government says the special master should reject this sweeping definition of “staff”.
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