In the scandal surrounding the classified documents Donald Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago, the former president and his lawyers appear to have everything they want. Team Trump insisted that a Trump-appointed judge assign a special master in the case to review the materials, and she complied. Team Trump asked for a specific judge to fill the role, and the Justice Department complied.
It’s against this backdrop that the former president and his defense attorneys still have a problem, not with prosecutors, but with the special master they sought out. NBC News reported:
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.
In other words, the Trump-requested arbiter asked the former president and his lawyers to disclose details about the documents he claims to have declassified. They responded that they don’t want to comply.
Why not? Because as Team Trump told Dearie, they don’t want to be forced to “fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment.”
Or put another way, Team Trump fears that a criminal indictment — against the former president or others in his operation — might be on the way, and answering the special master’s question might undermine a future legal defense.
The process is off to a great start, isn’t it?
Complicating matters, this isn’t the only area of concern for the Republican. Dearie’s draft plan also set a deadline of Oct. 7 for the inspection process, while Team Trump responded that it wants to drag out the process until the end of November.
What’s more, a Politico report added, “Trump’s team also raised concerns about Dearie’s request for information about whether any subsequent Fourth Amendment litigation filed by Trump to reclaim the documents should be filed with the magistrate judge who authorized the search in the first place: Bruce Reinhart, who Trump has assailed without basis as biased against him.”
With U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, everything was a breeze for the former president. The young, conservative jurist simply ignored potential concerns about her professional reputation and gave Trump, who tapped her for the federal bench two years ago, pretty much everything he wanted.
If the Republican expected his handpicked special master to follow Cannon’s lead, it appears he’s going to be disappointed.