September 21, 2022

Donald Trump’s lawyers tried – and failed bigly – to finesse the question of whether or not their client had really declassified the documents he stole from the people of the United States and stashed at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump has said in public that he declassified the classified material seized by the FBI. But in court, where there are penalties for lying, he and his lawyers have skirted the issue, The New York Times notes.

Instead, they have danced a fine line between suggesting that, as president, Mr. Trump had the authority to declassify the documents, while remaining silent on the issue of what he actually did — or did not do. At the same time, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have pursued another line of argument, telling Judge Dearie that he should not simply take the Justice Department’s word that some of the seized records are classified, as prosecutors claim


That did not go over well with Judge Dearie at Tuesday’s hearing. Apparently, he could not have cared less that he was Team Trump’s pick for special master. Politico reports that he “bristled” at Team Trump’s efforts to avoid proving any declassification efforts. “Without evidence from Trump, Dearie said his only basis to judge the classification level of the records was the fact that they all bear markings designating them as highly sensitive national security secrets — including some that indicate they contain intelligence derived from human sources and foreign intercepts.”

“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” Dearie said.


Politico called that “an ominous sign” for Trump. More importantly, it probably doesn’t matter because the real issue is that Trump stole the documents and refused to give them back.

But Trump’s own lawyers may have just undercut their own claim of declassification. Trump lawyer James Trusty said he wanted others on the team to get top secret security clearances so that they can read those (supposedly declassified) documents.


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