Merrick Garland Picks Apart Bogus Trump Argument In Docs Case

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The Justice Department is continuing its push to completely shut down the ongoing review by a court-appointed third party known as a special master of records seized in August by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s southern Florida resort known as Mar-a-Lago.

The department has now filed what’s apparently its final response in the main bulk of arguments before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where federal authorities are hoping to see the undoing of previous decisions by Trump-nominated federal Judge Aileen Cannon, who originally approved the selection of a so-called special master. Although Trump and his allies certainly seem keen on often resorting to arguments related to various privileges, the department recaps in the new filing that the special master’s review has resulted in apparently just a single instance of a dispute between the department and Trump’s team over an issue of attorney-client privilege. The special master’s process has included a determination of whether the department and Trump’s team could come to an agreement on the status of individual documents before the special master makes any independent determination that would conclude the matter.

“And having now reviewed every seized record except those bearing classification markings, Plaintiff has only a single attorney-client privilege dispute with the government involving one portion of a one-page document,” the newly made filing says. “Instead, Plaintiff has shifted tactics, unveiling a startling theory that all of the seized records—including government documents bearing classification markings—are his “personal” property under the Presidential Records Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq. That theory is meritless, and the Court need not consider it because it was not raised below and is entirely irrelevant: Even if the seized records were Plaintiff’s “personal” property, they would still be lawfully obtained evidence, nothing in the law would prohibit the government from using or reviewing them, and there would still be no basis for an extraordinary injunction and special-master proceeding.”

In other recent developments in the federal investigation into Trump harboring documents marked classified after leaving office — a probe that predicated the Mar-a-Lago raid in August, federal investigators have heard additional testimony from Kash Patel, who served in the Trump administration and went on to work for Donald in his post-presidency period. Patel received a grant of immunity covering the information he provided and what was reported as an order to testify after an initial appearance for questioning in which he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. Check out the new filing here.