The special master gave the Trump team until September 30 to discover any flaws or omissions in the FBI’s entire inventory of items seized during the investigation.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Repudiation of Stark by federal judges he appointed The attorney general of New York has made extensive fraud claims. It’s been a week of growing legal problems for Donald Trump, exposing the difficulties he faces without the safeguards the White House offers.
The bluster that served him well in politics is less useful in a judicial world controlled by verifiable proof, where judges this week questioned his assertions and a fraud investigation that began. At the same time, Trump was still president exploded into public light in an allegation-filled 222-page state lawsuit.
In politics, “You can say whatever you want, and it will work if people like it. It’s not the same in the legal world, “Chris Edelson, a presidential powers expert and American University government professor agreed. “It’s an area where there are actual consequences for mistakes, transgressions, and misleading claims in a manner that politics does not.”
This week’s 30-hour span demonstrated the gap between politics and law.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on Fox News, Trump argued that the highly classified government data he had at Mar-a-Lago had been declassified and that a president had the authority to declassify anything “simply by thinking about it.”
However, an independent arbitrator selected by his lawyers appeared baffled a day earlier when the Trump camp refused to give any evidence to corroborate his claims that the materials had been released. The special master, Raymond Dearie, a veteran federal judge, said Trump’s team was attempting to “have its cake and eat it” and that in the absence of evidence to back up the assertions, he was inclined to treat the data as classified.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) September 22, 2022
The New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, accused Trump in a lawsuit on Wednesday morning of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars and routinely misleading banks about the value of cherished properties. The complaint, the result of a three-year probe that began when he was president, also names three of his adult children as defendants and tries to prevent them from ever running a business in the state. Trump has repeatedly denied any misconduct.
Hours later, three justices on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit — two of whom were Trump nominees — handed him a stunning defeat in the Mar-a-Lago probe.
The court rejected Trump’s arguments that he was entitled to have the special master conduct an independent examination of the roughly 100 secret documents seized during the FBI search last month. It was unclear why Trump should have an “interest in or need for” those materials.
This decision cleared the road for the Justice Department to resume using classified records in its investigation. It lifted a stay imposed by a lower court judge, Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointment whose findings in the Mar-a-Lago case had been the former president’s one bright spot to date. On Thursday, she replied by rescinding the parts of her order that obliged the Justice Department to provide Dearie and Trump’s lawyers with access to sensitive records.
Dearie issued his order, giving the Justice Department until September 26 to produce an affidavit stating that the FBI’s complete inventory of things collected in the search is correct. Trump’s team has until September 30 to identify any inaccuracies or omissions in the stock.
“I think that fundamentally there may be a building understanding, if not an already grown consensus, that the government has the stronger position in many of these issues and conflicts,” said Richard Serafini, a Florida criminal defense lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor.
To be sure, Trump is no stranger to courtroom drama, having been deposed in countless lawsuits throughout his decades-long business career, and he has exhibited a remarkable ability to withstand seemingly terrible situations.
His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Trump faced a hazardous investigation in the White House into whether he hindered a Justice Department investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his 2016 campaign. Finally, at least in part, he was shielded by the power of the presidency, with special counsel Robert Mueller citing long-standing Department of Justice policy forbidding indictment of a sitting president.
He was impeached twice by a Democratic-led House of Representatives — once for phone contact with Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and again for Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — but was acquitted both times by the Senate, thanks to political support from fellow Republicans.
It is uncertain whether any current investigations — the Mar-a-Lago one or those linked to the Jan. 6 or Georgia elections — will result in criminal charges. And the New York action is purely civil.
But there’s no doubt Trump no longer has the legal protection of the president, despite his repeated use of a broad conception of executive power to justify his retention of records the agency claims are not his, regardless of classification.
Notably, neither the Justice Department nor the federal appeals court has seriously taken his claims that the records had been declassified. Despite his comments on television and social media, both have observed that Trump has provided no evidence to support the notion that he took any measures to declassify the data.
The appeals court dismissed the declassification issue as a “red herring,” stating that even declassifying a record would not affect its substance or convert it from a government document to a personal one. Furthermore, the statutes cited by the Justice Department as the basis for its inquiry do not identify classified material.
Trump’s lawyers have likewise refrained from stating in court or legal pleadings that the records had been declassified. They informed Dearie that they shouldn’t be obliged to reveal their position on the subject right now since it could be used against them in the event of an indictment.
Even some legal professionals who have previously supported Trump in his court battles are skeptical of his claims.
Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who testified as a Republican witness in the first impeachment proceedings in 2019, was impressed by the former president’s “lack of a coherent and consistent perspective on secret documents.”
“What Jedi-like lawyers stated that you could declassify things with a thought, but the courts are unlikely to swallow that assertion,” he continued.