While Dearie oversees the document review, the FBI appears to be building a case of obstruction, experts say

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The FBI’s unprecedented criminal investigation in the 11 weeks since agents searched Donald Trump’s Florida residence and club has unfolded on two tracks — one mostly public, the other mostly behind closed doors.

And in the public-facing area, the case over the appointment of a special master to examine thousands of seized documents reverberated through every level of the federal court system, with the special master — essentially an outside expert — casting doubt on Trump’s claims. The material must be protected from the FBI.

In contrast, the Bureau’s investigative activities are difficult to track, although some details are slowly emerging. Agents have interviewed several witnesses about the handling of government documents at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post reported last week A Trump staffer told federal agents he moved boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago in the former president’s specific direction, and the FBI has video surveillance to back it up.

The evidence, which experts say — along with repeated indications in court filings that prosecutors suspect Trump’s team willfully declassified all documents and failed to comply with a subpoena — suggests the government could build criminal cases of embezzlement and destruction of government property.

Even as the investigation moves forward, Trump is under legal scrutiny on several fronts. Among them: House Select Committee hearings January 6, 2021 attack In the US capital He testified And the archives of former presidents and the Department of Justice are conducting an extensive Criminal investigation How Trump and his advisers handled the post-election period.

The status of major investigations involving Donald Trump

No major public developments are expected in the Mar-a-Lago hearing after the Nov. 8 midterms — part of a longstanding judicial practice of avoiding doing anything perceived to help one side or the other in an election. , and in part, the special master is still sorting through the less sensitive material seized on the Florida property. At the same time, Trump and his supporters have openly talked about launching a 2024 presidential campaign that would immediately change the political landscape.

“You know what the calm is like before the storm?” National Security Adviser Paul Rosenzweig said. “We’re there. This is the calm before the storm,” he said.

At Trump’s request, Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond J. Thierry was appointed Review 13,000 seized documents and set aside those that should be protected from investigators due to attorney-client or administrative privileges. An appeals court has ruled that 103 classified documents seized in that raid should not be included in the special master’s review.

It is under review. Trump’s attorneys and lawyers have agreed to a vendor to digitally review more than 20,000 pages of seized unclassified material. Trump’s team first examines the documents, marking anything they deem privileged. The government reviews those documents, and Diari takes steps to resolve any disputes.

At a progress hearing on Tuesday, Deary expressed frustration on both sides. He criticized Trump’s lawyers for taking concessions on the initial batch of documents without providing any evidence to support their claims.

“‘Where’s the beef?’ I want some beef,” said the 78-year-old judge.

Even if Dearie moves forward with the review, the Justice Department is still fighting the appointment of a special master in court. Judge Eileen M., a federal judge in Florida. Cannon, in August, appointed and ordered a special master’s degree. He prohibited criminal investigators from using seized materials, including those marked classified, until the review is complete.

The Justice Department’s successful appeal of part of Cannon’s ruling helped prosecutors and FBI agents immediately regain access to classified material. Trump’s team petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn part of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, but the justices rejected it.

Anyone can submit court filings to the docket. The Mar-a-Lago study proves it.

Every legal detail in the case was scrutinized by reporters and the public, Trump supporters cheered Cannon’s initial decision to appoint a special master, and critics of the former president expressed skepticism about Trump’s legal claims.

Now, the Judiciary Appeals against the entire appointment A special master for the 11th Circuit relieved Deary of his duties in hopes of recovering the 13,000 seized documents.

“If the appeals court agrees with the government, the entire referral for a special master will be over,” said Mary McCord, who served as assistant attorney general for national security during President Barack Obama’s administration. “This is likely to be the lowest part of the investigation.”

‘Questions of National Security’

At the heart of any criminal case are often classified documents discovered by the FBI, including some of the most sensitive government secrets A foreign country’s nuclear capabilities. Some of the seized documents were published by The Post on Friday Contains very restricted information About Iran’s missile systems and intelligence work targeting China.

But former federal prosecutor Jim Walton said the 13,000 declassified documents could be important to prosecutors because they could shed light on why and how classified material was brought to Mar-a-Lago and who saw it after White left. House.

EXCLUSIVE: Mar-a-Lago documents contain secrets about Iran missiles, China intelligence

Walton said the Justice Department “wouldn’t be so pressured” to appeal a special master’s appointment unless some serious national security questions were answered. [13,000] Documentation is very important.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department declined to comment on their efforts, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

Trump’s spokesman, Taylor Pudovich, condemned the investigation and accused the Biden administration of weaponizing law enforcement and concocting a “documentary hoax in a desperate bid to retain political power.”

Deary has until early December to review documents and resolve disputes over concessions that Trump may insist on if his nomination is upheld. But the Court of Appeal will hear arguments from both sides next month, and a decision on whether to stop the special primary review is expected soon.

Meanwhile, the FBI will continue to seek witnesses who can provide information about the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago, including whether Trump or his representatives intentionally withheld documents from the Justice Department or falsely claimed to have turned over all classified material. When prohibited items are on the premises.

Among the questions they are trying to answer, legal experts said, is what the former president knew about the documents and whether his possession of the materials at Mar-a-Lago posed a national security risk.

House committee sends subpoena to Trump seeking documents, interviews

Officials at the National Archives and Records Administration have raised questions about whether all government records in Trump’s possession have been returned to government custody under the Presidential Records Act after he left office, and some documents may be. Stuck somewhere other than Mar-a-Lago.

“It’s all the work that goes on behind the scenes that will never be revealed,” said Javed Ali, a senior National Security Council official during the Trump administration who now teaches at the University of Michigan. “Who could have accessed those documents? And what information might they have collected? What might have resulted from his possession of these documents?

McCord said building a case requires more than interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents. He suspects that at this point in the trial, the government is examining legal precedent and strategizing about how attorneys will respond to potential defense arguments in court.

For example, the Justice Department already said in a recent court filing that even if Trump formally claimed and provided evidence of classified documents he held, that would not undermine a potential embargo case. That’s because the subpoena asked his team to return all documents “marked classified” — not classified.

“There’s other things besides fact-gathering going on at this point. There’s legal research,” McCord said. “All of that work is ongoing, and it’s a significant amount of work. You don’t just go out and collect evidence and file a charge sheet the next day,” he said.

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