Special master in Mar-a-Lago case appears skeptical of Trump 'declassification' claims

The special master appointed to review documents seized by federal agents who searched former President Donald Trump's Florida estate appeared doubtful Tuesday.

The special master appointed to review documents federal agents seized at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate appeared doubtful Tuesday about Trump's contention that he had declassified the various top secret and other highly sensitive documents found there.

The special master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of New York, had asked Trump's attorneys for more information about which of the over 100 sensitive documents federal agents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach might have been declassified. Trump's attorneys had told the judge in a letter Monday night that they didn't want to disclose the information yet because it could force them to prematurely "disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment."

At a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, Dearie noted that the case is a civil dispute, not a criminal one, but said he was taking the government's concerns about national security seriously.

"Let's not belittle the fact that we are dealing with at least potentially legitimately classified information. The government has a very strong obligation, as do all of us, to see to it that that information doesn't get in the wrong hands," said Dearie, a former judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court whom President Ronald Reagan appointed to the New York federal court."

While Trump's filing claimed neither side had provided a showing that the documents are classified, Dearie said the government had presented "prima facie evidence" that the documents are, because they bear classification markings.


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