The special master in the Mar-a-Lago case has asked Trump’s lawyers to back up some of his claims.
CNN’s legal analyst saw this as a test of whether they were prepared to lie for him in court.
Lying in court, unlike in the media, is a punishable offense, noted Elie Honig, the analyst.
Raymond Dearie, the special master reviewing government records the FBI retrieved from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, is putting the former president’s defense to test, a CNN legal analyst said.
In court hearings this week, Dearie has challenged Trump’s attorneys to present evidence to support two of Trump’s key claims: that he declassified the documents kept at Mar-a-Lago, and that the FBI planted evidence there.
Though Trump has repeatedly made those assertions in public, his lawyers have steered clear of repeating it in court, where arguments are more closely scrutinized.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that defending his declassification claims at this stage could damage their defense in a potential trial, drawing an unimpressed response from Dearie.
In an appearance on CNN Thursday, legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor, said that Dearie was seeking to expose Trump’s falsehoods.
“The power of our courts is they have a way of bringing out truth. Perhaps a person can get away with fudging the truth in their public statements, in the media, in their private life, in their business. But when you step into a court, ultimately, the judge or the jury will say, fine, that’s your allegation, now prove it,” said Honig.
“And you can see the tension in Donald Trump’s legal team because they will not say the things in court about declassification and planting that he is saying because lawyers have an ethical obligation.”
“You cannot make a false statement to a court. You can argue aggressively for your client, you could try to poke holes in what the other side is doing, but you cannot lie. This is really a test for Donald Trump.”
Trump’s legal team spent weeks persuading federal court judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the documents, a move that stalled the FBI’s investigation and which the Department of Justice opposed.
But Dearie’s appointment appears to have backfired, some analysts say, in light of his tough handling of the Trump team’s defense.
The special master has until November 30 to complete the review of the documents, and will hand back to Trump any that are shielded under executive privilege rules.
The DOJ this week won an appeal to regain access to the classified documents, which Cannon had blocked pending Dearie’s review.
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