If you are surfing the internet today, you have likely seen a smattering of headlines about Judge Dearie, the Special Master assigned to keep neutral watch over the items seized in the FBI raid on Mar-A-Lago. That's because he filed a document late yesterday called a "case management plan" that outlines what he expects of each party as he sets upon the arduous task of sorting through the nonsense.
I think everyone is missing something here. There are recordings of the raid. Stick with me for a second.
Within the plan, he details several steps the Trump team needs to take to reconcile the inventory list of the property taken from Mar-A-Lago. As an initial matter, the government released a sub-par inventory list. After some prodding, they released a more detailed inventory that still leaves a lot to be desired. President Trump alleges that the FBI took things they shouldn't have, and he isn't without reason. The FBI admitted to taking documents like his passports that they shouldn't have, along with medical records and tax returns, among other assertions. This fact, coupled with others, is one of the reasons he wanted the appointment of a Special Master in the first place. The interesting part comes in the coverage of the filing.
If you are reading the left-wing legacy media, you think that this means that President Trump has to put up or shut up, and he's in trouble. Headlines like "Mar-a-Lago special master orders Trump team to back up any claims of FBI 'planting' evidence" and "Special Master Demands Proof From Trump That The FBI Planted Evidence" are popping up all over social media, alongside the standard commentary about the boorish nature of Trump and how much trouble he is in.
But not so fast. I see it completely differently. You're shocked. I know.
First, the judge says that by September 26, the FBI has to submit a declaration verifying the Detailed Property Inventory on the docket already. He wants them to swear that what is already filed represents the complete and accurate accounting of what was taken. We already know there have been problems there; they've admitted them. You could very well make a headline that reads, "Dearie Forces FBI to Submit Affidavit Stating they Didn't Take Anything Else from Trump in Raid."
Next, Dearie wants President Trump to provide to him a list of things found in the inventory list that was not taken but are listed there anyway. For example, if they say they took a box labeled "Top Secret Documents that Trump says he Declassified," and Trump still has that box, the judge wants to know.
Then, he wants a list of items from that inventory that Trump says were seized but were not appropriately cataloged. For instance, if they took a pair of Melania's underwear and listed it as being found in "Box A" from the bathroom, but Trump asserts it should've been listed as "Melania's closet drawer," that would be a problem for the DOJ.
Then, he wants a detailed list and description of anything Trump says they took but didn't list. In other words, Dearie wants Trump to tell the court what the FBI stole from him in the raid.
And Trump has the entire raid on film. He recently referenced it here on Newsmax. Skip to around 50 seconds to hear the exchange.
Between you and I, I don't believe his reason. It isn't very hard to black box the faces of the agents involved. He even goes on to tell us how clear the picture is. I could be wrong, but...
How anyone could view this as a negative for Trump is beyond me. Again, first, Dearie makes the FBI confirm the already corrected inventory. If they come back with a more detailed inventory than already filed, the reason for the Special Master is proven again, and the DOJ will be in a bad spot. If they do not come back with a more detailed inventory report and allege that what is there is proper and correct, and then Trump comes in with discrepancies, it's an entirely different ballgame and a real problem for whatever case they are working on.
The judge will hold hearings if he has to, including an evidentiary hearing, to prove out any of the claims the FBI or DOJ, or Trump for that matter, are making. If you wanted the real reason that Trump is hanging on to those surveillance tapes from the raid? You got your answer now.
Judge Dearie also goes through a timeline of what is expected from each party, and when, and how those things should be categorized. It's here where we will get the Trump teams classification issues sorted, as well as personal property issues.
After the review is done (they've set a near impossibly rapid timeline for all of this, ending in late October), the judge will rule on personal property matters and other things. That means if the FBI took personal effects from Mar-A-Lago, he would have them returned should the judge order it.
There's more to this filing that I will be doing a follow-up on. Usually, though, there's an ace up the sleeve. So it would be wise for the legacy media to pause and think about that.
What is on the tapes?