In recent weeks, as the Mar-a-Lago scandal has advanced, a couple of key figures have become familiar. There’s been a lot of talk, for example, about the number 100: That’s the rough tally of classified, secret and top-secret documents the FBI recovered from Donald Trump’s property.
Another familiar number is 11,000: That’s supposed to be the total number of documents retrieved from the Florida estate, including materials that are related to government secrets.
This week, however, the former president’s legal team introduced us to a new and unfamiliar number in a court filing: 200,000. As NBC News reported:
[District Court Judge Aileen] Cannon also pushed back the deadline for [special master Raymond] Dearie to complete the review, to Dec. 16, citing both the delay in getting the documents to Trump’s team and his lawyers’ contention that the 11,000 documents taken from Mar-a-Lago amount to about 200,000 pages. Dearie had previously been expected to complete his review by Nov. 30.
The point of pushing such a figure is part of Team Trump’s delay tactic. After all, if the special master, his associates and relevant lawyers have to review 11,000 documents, that will take weeks. If that total is actually 18 times larger, then the Republican and his lawyers might be able to credibly argue that the process will need vastly more time.
The trouble is, the 200,000 figure is very likely a wild exaggeration. A Washington Post analysis walked through the practical concerns — given the number of boxes used, it’s just not realistic — before concluding that the number appears “impossible to defend.” The piece added:
Trump’s attorneys want to throw roadblocks in the path of the Justice Department and are using this claim of the scale of what was recovered to demand more time for their review. Not only do they admit that the total is secondhand, but they also have a reason to want the number to be as high as possible. So the idea that the FBI walked out of Mar-a-Lago lugging hundreds of thousands of documents seems to be pretty clearly inaccurate.
The entire legal strategy behind asking for a special master already appeared to be backfiring. With each passing day, the case appears increasingly misguided.