DOJ Humiliates Team Trump In Court For Flimsy Arguments

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The Justice Department is maintaining an air of confidence as the review by a special master of materials seized in last month’s FBI raid of Trump’s southern Florida property Mar-a-Lago continues.

The special master is a court-appointed, third-party expert, who in this case is federal Judge Raymond Dearie, a name proposed by Trump’s side to which the Justice Department agreed. In a new set of arguments filed in court, a team of Justice Department personnel outlined some of the requirements they sought for the process of a third-party vendor processing the potentially hundreds of thousands of pages of seized materials to facilitate further review and specific privilege claims from Trump’s lawyers. In this document’s telling, it is now the Justice Department selecting a vendor for conducting that data management work, for which the Trump team wanted an extended deadline in its own recent legal filing.

“Plaintiff informed us this morning that none of the five document-review vendors proposed by the government before last Tuesday’s preliminary conference were willing to be engaged by Plaintiff,” the Tuesday document from the Justice Department says, later adding: “Consistent with the Appointment Order, the government expects Plaintiff to pay the vendor’s invoices promptly when rendered.” (“Plaintiff” is referring to Trump.) Trump has a history of not paying his bills to the sought after extent, and in this case, his side also sought to divide costs associated with the vendor for document management with the government. The role of the vendor will also include providing for electronic access by the special master (Dearie) to seized materials, excluding those bearing classification markings, which appeals court judges recently allowed the department to use for investigative purposes. The government filing suggests the vendor’s initial work could be completed by next Friday, October 7.

Accordingly, department personnel also hoped for putting the deadline for that work at the 7th. “The government shared the paragraphs in this section with Plaintiff’s counsel before filing and Plaintiff agrees to the government’s proposed way forward on the document vendor in principle,” they said. “To avoid asking for further extensions, Plaintiff suggests that the selection deadline be reset to September 29, 2022, with the rolling production commencing October 3, 2022, and be completed by October 10, 2022.”

A Thursday order signed by Judge Aileen Cannon, who appointed Dearie, puts the deadline for the initial selection of a vendor for establishing the digital repository of the seized records from Trump’s resort at October 5. The final deadline for initial production of the documents, meaning the completion of the scans and categorization, is a week after, on October 13. Trump’s side has some three weeks after that point to finalize his privilege claims for further decision-making by the special master, who it’s far from sure would automatically accept the ex-president’s contentions.

The government filing before Dearie closes with a rebuttal of what amount to apparent attempts at delay and rhetorical thumb-twiddling from Trump’s side. “Plaintiff brought this civil, equitable proceeding,” department personnel noted. “He bears the burden of proof. If he wants the Special Master to make recommendations as to whether he is entitled to the relief he seeks, Plaintiff will need to participate in the process by categorizing documents and providing sworn declarations as the Amended Case Management Plan contemplates.”