Judge Aileen Cannon rules that Trump does NOT have to vouch for the accuracy of DOJ’s inventory
District Court Judge Aileen Cannon has ruled in favor of Donald Trump after his lawyers sought to avoid a special master’s requirement that they vouch for the accuracy of an inventory of material the government seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Another judge, special master Raymond Dearie, had told Trump’s lawyers to provide the assertion as part of a new management plan for poring over the trove of documents.
That order came as Trump and some of his surrogates have repeatedly claimed that the FBI planted material at his private club in Florida during the search, without providing evidence.
It would have required his legal team to either align with or depart from that claim, with their own reputations on the line, after the Justice Department revealed it seized about 100 documents marked classified from the president’s private club.
In her new order, Judge Cannon wrote: ‘There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff (Trump) at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge … objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents.’
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers are resisting a special master’s push that they vouched for an inventory of the material seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ruled
‘The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation,’ she wrote, noting that the government has complied with its own requirement to attest to the inventory and that ‘the parties and the Special Master now are situated to proceed forward with the review process pending exchange of the actual materials.’
She did allow that should ‘additional matters surface’ during the review that required reconsideration of the inventory, parties should tell the special master.
She also extended a deadline for reviewing the deadline until December 16, well after the November elections, yielding to Trump complaints about the pace of review.
Trump’s team had tried to avoid the requirement of objecting to anything in the inventory, or explicitly stating that Trump didn’t have it in his possession, saying it needed to look at the documents first. The government argued ‘such an objection is necessary to commence the review process,’ Judge Cannon noted.
Cannon, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed after the 2020 election, ruled in the government’s favor on another matter in the intensely contested case.
She ruled that the government could seal its Affidavit Regarding Detailed Inventory.
The government’s National Security Division Deputy Chief Julie Edelstein filed a motion seeking the redaction, saying it ‘will protect the identity of an FBI agent working on this investigation. This limited sealing is necessary because a number of the government personnel working on this investigation have, once their identities have been revealed publicly, has been subject to threats and harassment.’
She ruled in favor of the motion, and said the affidavit would remain under seal ‘until further order.’
The rulings came after Trump’s legal team complains in a new legal filing about the pace of sorting through 200,000 pages of material seized from Mar-a-Lago – and made plain it was resisting the order asking the former president to vouch for the accuracy of the inventory.
Trump’s team takes repeated shots at the government in its latest filing posted Wednesday night, as the ‘special master’ it requested shepherds the process of going through materials seized in an FBI search.
A three judge US appeals court has ruled that the Justice Department’s investigation can continue while the special master goes through material to sort out Trump’s privilege claims.
‘DOJ continues to mistake itself as having judicial authority. Its comments are not argument, but proclamations designed to steamroll judicial oversight and the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights,’ Trump’s lawyers wrote.
‘Along those lines, by participating in this litigation, the Plaintiff has not waived, and cannot be deemed to have waived, his rights under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, or any of his rights and immunities arising under the Constitution of the United States,’ they wrote.
Brooklyn-based federal judge Raymond Dearie asked Trump’s lawyers to say whether the inventory of material was accurate – after Trump made repeated public claims that the FBI imposed documents, without offering evidence.
An assertion of accuracy by his lawyers would appear to contradict that claim.
Dearie included the order in a new ‘case management plan’ for processing through some 11,000 documents – and follows Trump repeatedly making the allegation publicly without offering evidence of FBI misconduct.
‘No later than September 30, 2022, Plaintiff shall submit a declaration or affidavit that includes each of the following factual matters,’ the judge wrote, including ‘a list of any specific items set forth in the Detailed Property Inventory that Plaintiff asserts were not seized from the Premises on August 8, 2022.’
FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 in search of government material
A new filing contains Trump’s complaints about the volume of material
‘Did they drop anything on those piles? Or did they do it later? There’s no chain of custody here with them,’ Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity
Documents seized during the search of Trump’s estate on August 8 are pictured on August 30. Trump’s lawyers have declined to say in legal filings whether Trump had ordered them declassified while he was in office and had the authority
In a letter to Dearie and subsequent filing, Trump’s lawyers pushed back on the requirement ‘because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue.’
They said Trump ‘has no means of accessing the documents bearing classification markings, which would be necessary to complete any such certification by September 30, the currently proposed date of completion.’
Trump lawyer Jim Trusty signed the document. The latest legal eagle to join Trump’s team, Christopher Kise, who reportedly got paid a $3 million advance, was not on it.
The lawyers also told about the volume of material in the 11,000 pages removed by the FBI, claiming the government didn’t reveal the full extent.
‘The problem is compounded by the fact that when Plaintiff’s counsel referred to either 11,000 pages or even 11,000 documents during the status conference (we are still awaiting the transcript), the Government chose not to interject with an accurate number. In conversations between Plaintiff’s counsel and the Government regarding a data vendor, the Government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages,’ according to the filing.
Trump lawyer Jim Trusty signed the latest legal filing in the case
CNN reported on the Sunday letter, which is referenced in the filing.
They also spoke about the schedule, amid allegations Trump is seeking to stall the proceedings with the request for a special master, a move that Trump-appointed federal judge Aileen Cannon ordered.
‘In short, seasoned IT professionals who routinely work on large-scale document productions with the Government cannot meet the Government’s proposed schedule, and it was never realistic for the Government to suggest such a narrow timeframe,’ they wrote.
Trump made of planting evidence, which would be a crime, in an appearance on Fox News, telling host Sean Hannity that perhaps the FBI was looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails deleted during the search.
‘The problem that you have is they go into rooms – they won’t let anybody near – they wouldn’t even let them in the same building,’ he said of his own attorneys.
‘Did they drop anything on those piles? Or did they do it later? There’s no chain of custody here with them,’ Trump said.