Trump has argued that he has 11,000 documents taken from Mar-a-Lago, including about 100 bearing classification codes that he says contain some of the nation’s most closely guarded intelligence.
But Deary bristled at Trump’s lawyers’ efforts to counter his request for evidence that Trump actually tried to reveal any of the 100 documents the Justice Department recovered from his estate. Without evidence from Trump, he said his only basis for assessing the level of classification of the records was that they all had markings that designated them as national security secrets — some of them referring to human sources and intelligence obtained from foreign intercepts.
The initial tension between Dearie and Trump’s legal team was a threat to the former president, who requested a special master review documents taken from Mar-a-Lago and proposed hiring Dearie, a 1986 appointee of Ronald Reagan. Prosecutors presented two other names, but Deary agreed to Trump’s choice.
Trump’s legal team entered the Brooklyn courthouse about half an hour before the hearing, as protesters chanted, “Indict Trump!”
A very subdued atmosphere prevailed inside Derry’s courtroom. Members of the press were seated in the jury box, prompting one of Trump’s lawyers to quip before the session began that the former president’s team disagreed with these jurors.
Deary, 78, briefly engaged with the parties during the 40-minute session. He noted that the current lawsuit filed by Trump is civil in nature because no criminal charges have been filed, so it is up to Trump to assert privilege or other protected interests in the documents.
Trump’s lawyers have asked Deary to begin the process of obtaining security clearances to review classified documents.
But prosecutor Julie Edelstein told the judge that some of the records involved are so sensitive that members of the government’s investigative committee have not yet been given access to the documents.
Whether any of the records seized from Trump’s home are classified could ultimately be a side issue. The Justice Department has emphasized that three potential crimes are not being investigated, depending on whether the material at Mar-a-Lago is classified.
However, Deary’s comments on the classification of records are particularly significant in light of Trump’s filing with a separate court. urges a federal appeals court To keep in place Cannon’s order barring the Justice Department from pursuing a criminal investigation into the seized records.
In that filing, Trump’s lawyers argued that the Justice Department — not Trump — bears the burden of showing the documents seized last month were classified. Diari rejected that argument in his courtroom, saying it was the markings on the documents that mattered.