Former President Donald Trump has learned over and over that the best way to get rid of legal action is to delay it first. And while Trump’s “special master” gamble initially showed promise in that respect, the tactic may have actually backfired and put him on a fast-track collision course with the federal government. the state he once led.
“Who knows what remains at Mar-a-Lago? Who knows where the rest of it is? It is clear that Trump cannot be trusted – and neither can his lawyers. But at least the hoax was called to use the courts to delay this,” said Carl W. Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond law school.
Trump’s pre-emptive strike last month – a lawsuit against the federal government – tried to block the FBI from reviewing the documents seized at his beachfront Mar-a-Lago estate. That legal battle has now been split in two. In a sense, a court-appointed “special master” in Brooklyn is comb through some of the seized materials to find out if any of them could be withheld from the federation due to the former president’s “executive prerogatives”. On the other side, a Trump-friendly federal judge in South Florida She’s been trying to stop the FBI from even touching classified files, a decision that just came before a very conservative appeals court.
But neither is good for Trump.
His insistence on slowing down the investigation by squeezing an independent referee in his face. Raymond Dearie, the retired Brooklyn federal judge specializing in the Justice Department conjecture for the second time, has actually used his special employer role to speed up the review process.
On FridayDearie sets October 28 deadline to know what documents Trump actually wants to withhold from the DOJ on the head-scratching theory that a former president could cite “executive privilege” somehow instead current law enforcement.
In doing so, Dearie is moving significantly faster than the instructions he received to wrap things up by the end of November from the Trump appointee in the south, who played along with the delay tactic. plan, United States District Judge Aileen M. Cannon.
Dearie even sent reinforcements. In one order On Thursday, Dearie said he is asking retired magistrate judge James Orenstein to help sort through the massive mountain of 11,000 documents — and has no hesitation in ordering Trump to pay him $500 an hour to do that.
Tobias called Dearie’s decision to hire Orenstein “a masterful breakthrough”.
“That would solve the problem exponentially, and that’s fine. The whole point of this litigation is to delay,” Tobias said. “[Dearie] has a reputation as a no-nonsense, very professional, very experienced lawyer… he cuts through the bullshit that Trump’s attorneys make and gets to the point,” Tobias said.
Accelerated timelines mean the DOJ will know sooner what unclassified documents it can access — and use as evidence that Trump has withheld and altered government records do not belong to him.
For example, earlier court filings revealed that investigators recovered documents showing “several pages of presidential records were torn up,” violating 18 United States Code § 2071 that prevent people from ever coming back hold political office in the United States. Those same documents could also support other federal charges they are considering against the former president, 18 United States Code 1519because the feds “have developed evidence that government records may have been concealed and removed from the [Mar-a-Lago] archives and such efforts may have been made to obstruct the government investigation. “That second charge threatens a 20-year prison sentence.
“Judge Cannon tried to create a delay, and it didn’t work… [Dearie] It’s the kind of judge that’s been around for a long time. He will not accept wasted time. And he won’t be played,” said George Washington University law school professor Stephen A. Saltzburg, who has twice called himself an exceptional master.
Dearie wasted no time and has set a follow-up hearing for October 6 to ensure the review goes ahead. The compressed timeline puts Trump in a position where any legal game — and obvious delay tactics — occurs just as dozens of Republicans he endorses enter the final weeks of the campaign. politics before the general election.
Meanwhile, the more threatening side of the FBI investigation is now free to proceed at full speed. Agents can now once again gain access to classified files they have seized, evidence at the heart of the most serious criminal charge Trump has faced: breach of law. Espionage Act by keeping “Top Secret” documents in his busy club and putting the nation’s security in jeopardy. That law, United States Code 2071comes with the threat of jail time and could also prevent him from running for president again.
Last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals scrutinized Cannon’s decision to block the FBI and sided with the DOJ – despite the fact that two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Trump himself.
The court even called Trump for publicly claiming that he has files that have been classified as good because he has already declassified them – maybe even in his head, when he mused with Fox News. The Appellate Body noted that Trump’s lawyers have yet to make that argument before Dearie (perhaps, as some have pointed out, because lying to the judge would cost them their license to practice law).
“[Trump] suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was president. But the records show no evidence that any of these records have been declassified. And before the special master, [Trump] resists providing any evidence that he has declassified any of these documents,” board wrote.
And they added this scathing line, subverting future arguments that Trump has any excuse.
“In any case, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document will not change its content or make it personal. . So even if we assume that [Trump] declassified some or all of the documents, which would not explain why he had a personal interest in them,” they wrote.
Saltzburg said Trump’s legal team, still tall after the win over Cannon, “completely miscalculated with the 11th Circuit.”
Legal scholars told The Daily Beast that last week’s court decisions had the effect of tightening the noose around Trump’s neck.
“It looks a lot different from last week thanks to Judge Dearie and thanks to two Trump appointees on Track 11 who cut the trash. I think they have some measure of self-esteem. And they understand what’s going on here. Maybe they really care about national defense and security. What a concept,” said Tobias.
Noah Bookbinder, president of the Washington-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which has spent considerable time and effort trying to find ways to hold Trump accountable for years, said: “These decisions will make it go much faster.
However, Bookbinder warns that the DOJ is incapable of truly providing the American public with what so many crave.
“I can’t imagine that, even if they were ready, the Justice Department would bring charges in this case before the election,” he said, citing the agency. vague, 60-day rule so as not to intentionally interfere in elections. “There is no excuse under Justice Department policy — Donald Trump is not a candidate for anything as of November 2022 — but broadly understood, an indictment could affect affect the election. And I can’t imagine them going there.”