Trump's own lawyers 'steadfastly' refuse to back up his story in court: former prosecutor
Gage Skidmore.

On Monday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," former federal prosecutor Elie Honig noted a key discrepancy between how former President Donald Trump is defending his stash of classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and how his lawyers are defending him in court.

This comes as Senior Judge Raymond Dearie, the newly appointed special master, is set to begin reviewing the documents for any evidence of privilege, at the behest of Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon, who effectively shut down the investigation until Dearie could complete his review.

"Let's start with the latest information that we have," said anchor Erin Burnett. "What do you think when you hear that Team Trump is saying it doesn't want to disclose certain, quote-unquote, 'declassification' related to the Mar-a-Lago documents. Whatever does this mean?"

"Donald Trump's lawyers are being very, very careful in this debrief, which I just read through," said Honig. "And I think it's notable that while Donald Trump has said publicly — and others around him — that he declassified the documents, the lawyers are steadfastly avoiding committing to that in their papers. They have to be careful about not making any misrepresentations to a court."

This sort of caution, argued Honig, is a demonstration of how the Justice Department has leveraged the former president's claims about classification to put him in a bind.

"DOJ has really sort of called Donald Trump's bluff on this," said Honig. "Because DOJ said, going forward we need Donald Trump to identify, document by document, which documents he objected to. And that would include declassification. Trump's team said it's not quite time for that. They may challenge it under Rule 41. So they're not ready to commit on declassification just yet.

READ: Trump ignored warnings last year there could be serious ramifications if he didn't return docs

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Elie Honig says Trump's lawyers aren't using his arguments in court