Judge Raymond Dearie grilled Trump's lawyers about the classification status of Mar-a-Lago records.
Dearie was appointed "special master" at the request of Trump's team.
"You can't have your cake and eat it," Dearie said after Trump's lawyers resisted confirming Trump's claim that the records had been declassified.
A court-appointed "special master" on Tuesday chided Donald Trump's legal team for wanting to "have your cake and eat it" after Trump's lawyers refused to provide evidence that Trump had declassified all the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Dearie had pressed the former president's lawyers to confirm his claim that the records were declassified. Trump's team resisted the request, however, saying that turning over that information would force Trump to "fully and specifically disclose a defense" that he might try to mount in the event of a "subsequent indictment."
But Dearie didn't appear to buy that argument, saying Tuesday that if the former president's attorneys didn't give him evidence of declassification, he would side with the feds.
"As far as I'm concerned, that's the end of it," he said, later adding: "You can't have your cake and eat it."
Dearie's remarks were all the more noteworthy given that he was appointed "special master" at Trump's own request. As special master, Dearie is in charge of reviewing the approximately 11,000 government records the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago and filtering out those that may be covered by attorney-client or executive privilege.
The Justice Department has said that hundreds of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago were marked classified, including some that were designated top-secret and contained sensitive information about sources and methods. But Trump has publicly denied that, claiming he had a "standing order" to declassify all the government records that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency.
However, his legal team has not made that claim in any of its filing, a point the Justice Department noted last week.
Trump "principally seeks to raise questions about the classification status of the records and their categorization under the Presidential Records Act ('PRA')," the department said in a separate legal filing. "But Plaintiff does not actually assert—much less provide any evidence—that any of the seized records bearing classification markings have been declassified."
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