Trump's lawyers are 'painted into a corner' as they face special master grilling: former FBI agent
Donald Trump (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP)

Tuesday afternoon, attorneys for Donald Trump will be confronted by United States District Judge Raymond Dearie, where he is expected to grill them over a batch of disputed top secret documents that the former president allegedly declassified.

Dearie was appointed to the position of special master -- with the Trump team's approval last week -- to oversee a legal squabble over certain documents the former president took to his Mar-a-Lago estate. The documents were retrieved by FBI agents armed with a warrant on August 8.

On Monday, the special master already pushed back at the assertions by Trump's legal representatives, who are balking at identifying specifically which documents were declassified, setting the stage for a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Appearing on CNN on Tuesday morning, attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa was asked by host Poppy Harlow what exactly Trump's lawyers are doing.

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"I think, just to point at one of the really interesting parts of all of this is the question of what was declassified, was there a blanket declassification which the former president has claimed, but which his legal team has never argued in any of the legal filings that they have made throughout this case and at this point they're saying once again in response to the Department of Justice they do not think they should have to immediately disclose certain, quote, declassification information. What does that tell you and how do you think that this plays out?" host Harlow asked.

"It tells me that his lawyers know what has happened to the attorneys who have come before them in other contexts and that they are unwilling to make assertions in court for which they can be held professionally and even potentially criminally liable," Rangappa replied with a slight smile.

"They have come as close as they can in their previous filings to intimate Trump declassified the documents but they have never provided any evidence, any affidavit, any documentation to substantiate this," she added. "What's going to be interesting, Poppy, is whether Trump's lawyers will again make this, you know, pseudo-argument in their response to the appeal while at the same time refusing to elaborate on that claim or make a full supported argument to the special master."

"They have sort of painted themselves into a corner," she suggested. "I think I should also add that it's not entirely clear to me why this issue is even relevant in the case of a special master, because even if these documents were declassified they still have government records and it's not clear to me why they would in any event be returned to Trump."

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