This has been a weird trip to this point.
The situation is that Trump had taken alot of documents that were marked as classified and had a prolonged battle with the National Archives to return them. The NA when they realized what was still missing after getting some documents back after long stretches went to the FBI. The FBI got a subpeonia and took more documents. Trump's legal team said that was it and signed a legal document to that effect. Turns out they were lying and DOJ went to a judge, got a search warrant and went and found additional documents throughout the place. Including storage locations and Trump's office. Some classified folders are empty meaning the internal documents could be missing.
Weeks later, Trump judge shopped and found an appointee that he put in place. She initially was skeptical that he could bring the case before her but ended up saying she was going to grant a motion for a special master. On the grounds that some of the materials taken were protected by attorney client privilege or executive privilege. She said this before hearing from DOJ. Then pretty much gave Trump's team everything he wanted and things they did not ask for as well. The DOJ responded with fact and legal theory and was countered with hypotheticals that ignored the DOJs point and judge sided with Trump.
The special master is underway now, but is now also being challenged by the Trump team, despite them picking him. He says he can make it through the documents by Oct. 7th while the judge gave until Nov. 30th. Trump's team does not like that. He is also pushing back at Trump's team for details that they declassified anything but they are refusing to answer that point.
In the meanwhile DOJ is appealing the stay preventing continued criminal investigation using the classified documents that the Trump legal team did not ask for. She allowed a national security review to continue but not the other portion. Which DOJ says ignores how this thing works but she upheld the stay.
In a sense Trump has already won with delay tactics and being at least initially successful with convincing a federal judge to apparently accept that he has some claim to these documents, executive privilege and so on. And that he can challenge these things at this point as opposed to a criminal trial, when anybody else would do it, on the grounds that his reputation would be harmed. Which is a concern that the court has never considered. There were even apparently a few SCOTUS cases that said as much.
DOJ appealed review of the classified material, they probably should have done the whole thing, and now conservative attorney generals are jumping in to worship Trump more. Trump also appointed many of these judges on the 11th circuit court of appeals. This could be the reason for the narrow appeal but they want to be able to keep the investigation going more or less. Most legal minds I have seen say that they see even this conservative court not biting on Trump's claims but who knows?
It is a weird system where you are the one in danger but can run to a judge you appointed for aid. Seems like that is a conflict. I am normally not big on that line of thought as it should not matter, but Trump is unique among his desire to act in corrupt and illegal manners. And most other ex presidents just sort of fade and do charity work or similar sort of things.
Here are the problems as I have read about them from lawyers (some of many).
1. Many of the points should come up in a criminal trial and not in the federal court. As the case is still being built.
2. The case Trump is building is without merit at the moment because the DOJ got subpoenas and warrants. So the judge is showing insane deference to Trump.
3. Trump cannot claim executive privilege. He is not an executive in the federal government and is a private citizen. And he is attempting to use it to keep documents from the executive branch. So the executive branch keeping documents from itself while the current executive is not saying they are privileged at all. Giving the ex president power he does not have.
4. Taken documents are being treated special because he is an ex president and the district judge said as much.
5. The documents are clearly marked classified. And Trump's team has repeatedly sought to delay and lied about what they had. Initially saying they had boxes of newspapers, then signing that they returned everything and it was all secured only to turn out Trump had alot in boxes in his office.
6. Trump can claim he declassified things but there is no evidence he did. The president has the power to do this but if there is not a paper trail than it is a tree falling in the woods situation. For that matter ex Trump staffers indicate that this did not happen. At one point something was int the works but it never came to be. Oddly, they are demanding DOJ prove that the classified documents were in fact classified. Normally courts defer to the executive (since those are their documents) on these matters. It is going to the agency that classified them and demanding for them to prove why. As opposed to the logical method of proving that you declassified them.
7. The later point may not matter, because if a document contains sensitive content it is covered by the Espionage act whether declassified or not.
8. The initial judge is basically part of Trump's legal team at this point.
9. The special master is in an odd spot because there is no precedent for executive privilege in these matters. And it is possible that he does not do things Trump team likes and they ask the judge to dismiss the guy they chose.
10. The judge ordered that original documents be given to the SM and not copies. Copies are to be given to Trump's team but not the DOJ.
11. Trump's legal team has been allowed to get away with ignoring the DOJ briefs and the judge has ignored them and showed crazy skepticism towards the government but not Trump.
I do think that the government goes crazy with classifications but Trump is not a poster boy of innocents. The FISA court and national security things are very often abused to the detriment of US citizens, but Trump is not the one I think deserves any benefit of the doubt he is getting at any level. A normal person or employee would be in jail right now awaiting trial or whatever.
It is a very weird situation where it seems like Trump is benefiting directly from his appointments that are just giving him whatever he wants to this point. It makes no sense at all and may highlight the approach of more authoritarian government that is more consistent with Hungry etc. that the GOP seems to support.
This was more of a rant than anything but it is staggering to see and watch this sort of thing happening. It is very 1984 in a way. With the whole they said to doubt the evidence of your eyes. Except in this case it is not the government.
Trump is for sure a cancer on the country and the movement that he helped guide will go on for a while. If it kills the country is an ongoing question.
The SM has made it clear, produce legit evidence that the docs were declassified WHILE he was in office and which ones were declassified.
Basically they have to put up or shut up.
The lawyers are stalling because they likely know there was no declassification and frankly they are risking their careers at this point.
Also the Judge that appointed the SM needs to undergo judicial review, imo.
Those docs are not his, declassified or not. They go to the National Archives.
Also who knows if he still has any and were any digital copies made and who saw the docs besides him?
Also it looks like NY has dropped the hammer down on him now too
And as of now it also looks like the 3 judges of the Appeals Court Panel, 2 of whom were appointed by him, all struck down Judge Cannon's ruling. Unanimous decision. Now he and his pseudo legal team could try for the Supreme Court but that will just delay things and the answer is likely going to be the same thing. The odds are currently in the DOJ's favor.