Reporter flags 'legal sleight of hand' in Trump's latest court filing
Donald Trump pointing at the camera / Gage Skidmore.

Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump today made a filing in an attempt to block the government from continuing its investigation into the top-secret government documents he hid at his Mar-a-Lago resort, but Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery believes he's found what he calls a "legal sleight of hand" in their arguments.

In particular, Pagliery notices that the Trump lawyers have not directly asserted that he declassified all of the documents that he stashed away at Mar-a-Lago, despite also saying he had the complete authority to do so.

The reason for this, Pagliery speculates, is that making such a claim could open them up to legal problems of their own without proper evidence in their favor.

"As legal scholars closely monitoring this case have pointed out, lawyers putting that in writing could force them to back that up with proof that Trump actually took appropriate steps as president to make that happen," he argues. "And so far, there’s no sign he did that."

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Although some Trump allies have argued that a president can essentially declassify information simply by wiggling his fingers over documents, Pagliery believes that Trump lawyers' reluctance to argue this in court shows how thin this theory really is.

"In reality, a president’s formal decision to declassify a particular set of national security documents is actually just the first step in a bureaucratic process," he writes. "The government agency that initially marked a record as 'confidential,' 'secret,' or 'top secret' has to go back and relabel that record. And the assertion that Trump simply waved his hand and made it so has been hotly debated by national security lawyers."

Read the full analysis here.

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