Special master asks Trump team for ‘the beef’ behind privilege claims

The special master appointed to review the documents former President Trump stored at his Florida home expressed hesitation during a Tuesday conference that they should be shielded from Justice Department investigators.

Judge Raymond Dearie asked attorneys for Trump to offer up more details about why an initial batch of documents already set aside by the Justice Department would be subject to privilege.

“It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log,” Dearie said. “What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.”

The batch of documents in question includes a log where recommendations on pardons were among the materials Trump had in his home, a detail known only after a court filing was accidentally briefly unsealed before being removed from the public docket.

The conference comes as attorneys on behalf of Trump as well as the Justice Department are reviewing 11,000 unclassified records stored at Mar-a-Lago totaling ​​21,792 pages — much lower than the 200,000 initial estimate by the company hired to scan them.

Dearie also questioned why Trump’s team had claimed one of the documents was his personal property but also protected by executive privilege — one dealing with presidential records.

“Unless I’m wrong, and I’ve been wrong before, there’s certainly an incongruity there,” Dearie said.

Tuesday’s conference was an early sign of the work ahead as the parties pour over the thousands of pages of documents.

Dearie was appointed as special master as part of a ruling from Florida District Judge Aileen Cannon.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has since reversed one aspect of her ruling, siphoning off classified records from the special master review. 

The broader case challenging the appointment of a special master is still being litigated by the appeals court. 

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