Trump’s legal team made the fatal mistake of putting an actual judge on their list of proposed Special Masters:
On Tuesday, a skeptical Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie pressed Trump’s lawyers repeatedly on their refusal to disclose whether he declassified any of the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago — and if so, which ones.
“The government gives me prima facie evidence that these are classified documents,” Dearie said, referring to the plain markings on the records. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.”
Dearie gave Trump’s lawyer James Trusty ample opportunity to explain why his consideration shouldn’t end there.
On the eve of the hearing, Trump’s lawyers had filed a four-page letter urging Dearie to back off from his demand that they disclose declassification arguments.
“We respectfully submit that the time and place for affidavits or declarations would be in connection with a Rule 41 motion that specifically alleges declassification as a component of its argument for return of property,” Trusty wrote in the filing. “Otherwise, the Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order.”
Dearie said he agreed that Trump’s lawyers have the right to assert that position, but he suggested that they would have to live with the consequences of that course of action.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” the judge said.
This is the same problem Trump had with his election lawsuits — being in a venue where not being truthful can expose you to criminal liability can be a problem for professional liars.
This is far, far from over — plenty of people with Article III commissions who aren’t judges will have ample opportunity to run interference for Trump — but it’s one positive development.