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Trump lawyers claim classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago may be privileged because they contain handwritten notes

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Donald Trump speaks

Former US President Donald Trump.Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

  • Trump’s lawyers said the classified Mar-a-Lago documents could be privileged because they contain handwritten notes.

  • Trump supports an order preventing the Department of Justice from reviewing classified records seized from his home.

  • The “special tutor” appointed to review those records held a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

The Department of Justice did not slur words in its call for access to classified materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Without the ability to review those records, she said, “the government and the public would suffer irreparable harm.”

But on Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers suggested those concerns — and the obvious hashtags — might not be enough to overcome the power of the former president’s pen, or Sharpie.

“The fact that the documents contain hashtags does not necessarily negate the franchise’s claims,” ​​Trump’s lawyers said in a new file before the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. They continued to note that, according to court documents, some confidential records seized from Mar-a-Lago “contain what appear to be President Trump’s handwritten notes.”

They added that “these notes could certainly contain distinct information; further supporting the need for an independent third-party review of these documents.”

Tuesday’s filing came in response to the Justice Department’s appeal of a court order temporarily halting its review of nearly 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, including more than 100 designated as classified.

Judge Eileen Cannon last week refused to suspend her ruling and appointed Raymond Deere, the former chief federal court judge in Brooklyn, to serve as a special lead – an outside arbitrator who reviews the material and takes out any material that could be covered under a client attorney. or executive privilege.

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The Department of Justice, in its appeal to Cannon’s order, said this “impedes the government’s efforts to protect the security of the nation.” But the former president’s lawyers said the handwritten notes outweighed the urgency of that concern.

Trump has also repeatedly claimed without evidence that he has a “permanent order” to declassify all records transferred to Mar-a-Lago. But more than a dozen of his former aides told CNN they were not aware of the matter, and Trump’s legal team did not make the claim in any of his files.

In court filings, Trump’s lawyers did not echo the allegations of declassification, but emphasized that the current president has the ultimate authority to declassify the information. On Monday, they said the government “has not proven” that the tagged records remain classified, adding that “this matter will be determined later.”

Derry, the newly appointed special master, held a preliminary hearing on Tuesday to discuss how his review process will proceed over the next two months. Ahead of the hearing, Trump’s lawyers disputed Deere’s request for more information about the classification status of the confiscated documents.

The response was notable because Trump’s lawyers have acknowledged the possibility of an indictment on charges related to removing records from the White House.

His lawyers argued that handing over information about the records’ classification status would force Trump to “completely and specifically disclose a defense” he might use in the event of a “later indictment.”

The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 as part of an investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and other laws, according to a search warrant disclosed with the revisions. In court filings, the Department of Justice noted that the Espionage Act criminalizes the retention of government records related to national defense regardless of classification status.

The Justice Department investigation is also examining potential violations of laws that criminalize concealment, deletion, and destruction of government records — also regardless of the level of classification.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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