This is an excerpt from Washington Examiner.
Former President Donald Trump claims there are two documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort that are both personal and protected by executive privilege.
The assertion came in a court document filed Thursday after discussion between Trump’s team and the Justice Department, narrowing the scope over documents in which there remain disputes in response to an order from the special master appointed to filter out privileged material from the records taken by the government.
For items listed as No. 15 and 16, the filing says both sides agree each document has personal records, but the government disagrees with the Trump team’s assertion that they are also covered by executive privilege.
“Plaintiff claims that documents 15 and 16 record communications between the President and his advisors and for those documents appears to invoke the Presidential communications component of Executive Privilege,” the filing says.
The government lists four reasons why it disagrees with this assertion, including that the plaintiff “cannot logically assert Executive Privilege over two of the documents — 15 and 16 — because the parties agree that those documents are personal and not Presidential records. Only official records are subject to assertions of Executive Privilege.”
The special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, has already signaled skepticism about such dual claims in the dispute over the documents taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida by the FBI in August. “Unless I’m wrong, and I’ve been wrong before, there’s certainly an incongruity there,” Dearie said this week.
In the same phone conference, focused on a small subset of records the DOJ’s filter team has already set aside, Dearie pressed Trump’s legal team to provide more information to support claims of privilege to shield certain documents from the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s handling of documents. “It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log,” Dearie said during the call, the New York Times reported. “What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.”
Trump’s lawyers claim nine documents are personal records, while the Justice Department insists they are presidential records, per the new court filing. But it was the Trump team’s dual assertions about two other documents that inspired skeptical critiques on Twitter.
“So Trump’s counsel are claiming communications about clemency petitions to the President of the United States are personal records for Trump to keep? That seems like a poor strategy for convincing Judge Dearie,” tweeted Ryan Goodman, founding co-editor-in-chief of Just Security and former special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. He added later that he surmised it was a “metaphysical impossibility.”
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