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Judge asks Trump lawyers to back up claims on seized documents

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FILE PHOTO – A redacted FBI photograph of documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container stored in former U.S. president Donald Trump’s Florida estate, and which was included in a U.S. Department of Justice filing and released August 30, 2022. U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge reviewing records seized from Donald Trump’s Florida home asked the former president’s lawyers on Thursday to provide any evidence casting doubt on the integrity of the documents, which Trump has made unsubstantiated claims were planted by FBI agents.

Senior federal judge Raymond Dearie, appointed by another judge to vet the documents to assess whether some should be withheld from investigators as privileged, also asked the Justice Department to certify by Monday a detailed property inventory of materials the FBI seized in the court-approved Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach.

Dearie asked Trump’s lawyers to submit by Sept. 30 a list of specific items in that inventory “that plaintiff asserts were not seized from the premises.” Dearie also asked them to submit any corrections to the government’s list by that date including items they believe were seized at Mar-a-Lago but not listed in the inventory.

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“This submission shall be plaintiff’s (Trump’s) final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” wrote Dearie, serving as an independent arbiter known as a special master.

The search was conducted as part of a federal criminal investigation into whether Trump illegally retained documents from the White House when he left office in January 2021 after his failed 2020 re-election bid and whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe.

Trump has called the investigation politically motivated. He also has claimed, without providing evidence, both that he had declassified any documents found at Mar-a-Lago and that the FBI planted documents.

On Trump’s request, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appointed Dearie to vet the materials. The Justice Department has said more than 11,000 documents were seized, including about 100 documents marked as classified.

A federal appeals court ruled on wednesday that the Justice Department can resume reviewing those classified records in its criminal investigation. The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also precluded Dearie from vetting those documents marked classified.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Wil Dunham

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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