Donald Trump's special master gambit is a 'giant backfire'

Donald Trump's special master gambit is a 'giant backfire'
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New York Times reporter Charlie Savage wrote in his Wednesday piece that it is quickly becoming clear that Donald Trump may be regretting his request for a special master in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

Trump reportedly thought he could delay the investigation into the stolen documents that he stashed at Mar-a-Lago, but his ploy appears to have backfired.

Tuesday evening, former FBI counsel and Robert Mueller prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, noted that Trump's inability to find a document vendor is his own way of quiet-quitting his suit.

"I think there is something we can take away from what seems like a small potatoes kind of thing," Weissmann said. "I think what Donald Trump is doing is quiet-quitting. He brought this case and he realized he is worse off from having brought this case."

Weissmann isn't the only one. As Savage quoted, New York University legal scholar in residence, Peter Shane, explained, “Maybe from Trump’s point of view, creating delay and chaos is always a plus, but this has the feel of a giant backfire."

Not only has the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals removed the protections handed to Trump by his hand-picked judge, Aileen Cannon, but he is also still on the hook to pay for the special master he wanted, at $500 an hour.

"The appeals court freed the Justice Department to resume using about 100 documents marked as classified in its investigation while telegraphing that the court thought Judge Cannon likely erred by appointing a special master," wrote Savage, noting that after the ordeal it's unclear what Trump has left that benefits him.

While special master Judge Raymond Dearie is continuing his efforts to sift through the information, he's also battled with Trump over the misinformation he's pushed out over his personal social media site.

"For example, the judge has ordered Mr. Trump to submit by Friday a declaration or affidavit that lists any items on the inventory 'that plaintiff asserts were not seized' in the search," Savage explained.

Dearie also asked Trump that he submit a list of things that weren't there that are on the FBI's list. It comes after Trump, Fox personalities, Trump family members and Republican officials suggested that the FBI could have planted documents

“They thought it was a win to win the first battle, but they didn’t think through what winning that battle would mean with any reputable judge who is appointed as special master,” Georgetown University professor of white-collar law Julie Sullivan said. “They can’t anticipate that every judge will give them a complete pass despite the law. It was a political or a public relations strategy, not a legal one.”

Trump's other problem is his ongoing claim that he declassified "everything," including the items he took with him to his Palm Beach country club. That hasn't been stated in any court documents from Trump, however. So Judge Dearie told Trump's lawyers they had to provide proof of declassification in a sworn statement. They haven't done it yet.

"Judge Dearie is effectively trying to force Mr. Trump’s lawyers to confront a weakness in their theory that executive privilege is relevant to the case," Savage closed. "Many legal experts doubt a former president can invoke the privilege against the wishes of the current president, preventing the Justice Department from reviewing executive branch materials in a criminal investigation."

Read the full column at the New York Times.

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