The Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested a federal judge to delay a portion of her order halting its criminal investigation into documents seized in search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The DOJ argued that Mr. Trump had no right to the 100 classified documents at the center of the investigation.
In addition, prosecutors stated they would file a broader appeal of U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s Monday order. The order is for a Special master to review the 11,000 government and other documents discovered at the Florida resort to determine if any are protected by attorney-client or executive privileges. This decision temporarily prevents the government from using materials for its criminal investigation.
The purpose of a special master is to protect attorney-client communications after law offices have been searched. However, the prospect of having someone from outside the government, as opposed to the executive branch, assist in determining what could be protected by executive privilege left some legal experts confused.
Prosecutors did not request an urgent review of the majority of the judge’s ruling and stated that they would disregard all other non-classified materials. They also said they would deliver copies to Mr. Trump and would not use them in the inquiry. They stated that they were especially interested in the classified materials and argued that delaying this portion of the investigation would be detrimental to national security.
The filing stated that the classified records are government property under the supervision of the Executive Branches, and Plaintiff does not own any of these properties. The DOJ urged the judge to lift that aspect of her order by September 15, stating they would appeal if their motion was denied.
Mr. Trump’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to a warrant released by a Florida court on August 26, FBI investigators who searched the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump took 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were categorized as top secret.
Based on sources familiar with the situation, Mr. Trump’s legal woes have continued to expand with a federal grand jury investigating the spending of his Save America political action committee. According to its disclosures to the Federal Election Commission, the PAC has received more than $135 million since the 2020 election, mostly in response to Mr. Trump’s claims that the election was stolen.
Since the search of Mar-a-Lago, the group has sent out a slew of new fundraising letters, including one regarding the special master. One email sent Thursday stated that this is a small victory on the path to justice. It solicited contributions between $5 and $5,000.
It is no surprise that a few days after Biden called Trump supporters a ‘threat’ to democracy, his administration went after those very same supporters and Save America PAC. The Save America PAC is dedicated to Make America Great Again, Mr. Trump’s spokesperson said on Twitter.
According to Samuel Buell, a law professor at Duke University School of Law, the Justice Department has appealed Judge Cannon’s appointment of a special master to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which might rule on the matter within a few weeks.
Mr. Buell stated the emergency appeal could be processed very fast, and everyone knows this case is of the utmost importance.
In her decision, Judge Cannon noted that the Justice Department and Mr. Trump disputed whether specific papers constitute presidential records, which belong to the government, or personal records, and which documents may be admissible as evidence. Appointing a special master to settle such problems would lend the probe of the former president an “appearance of fairness,” she added.
The 100 classified documents recovered by the FBI during its search of Mar-a-Lago were easily identifiable by their markings. According to the prosecution, they were already separated from the other seized records and did not include personal records or potentially privileged communications with Mr. Trump’s attorneys.
The Justice Department stated that the classification markings show on the face of the papers that they are government records and not the Plaintiff’s personal information.
Judge Cannon requested that prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s attorneys submit recommendations for applicants for the special master position by Friday, along with specified duties for the arbitrator. Prosecutors stated Thursday that the government would “present its perspectives on these matters” by the deadline.
In her Monday order, Judge Cannon attempted to limit the scope of her order. Cannon stated that while she required the Justice Department to halt its use of the documents in the criminal investigation, she would permit the intelligence community to continue its review of the seized documents. She was allowing the review to determine whether there is a threat to national security caused by Mr. Trump’s handling of them.
Prosecutors disagreed, stating that the intelligence community’s inquiry had been effectively terminated because it “cannot be separated” from the work of the Justice Department and FBI. Prosecutors stated that the same FBI agents engaged in the criminal investigation coordinated with intelligence agencies on this review.
For instance, according to the petition, the FBI is responsible for examining what may have been in the dozens of empty folders with “classified” labels that investigators discovered at Mar-a-Lago. It may utilize criminal investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants. The filing added that evidence would also be used to investigate what may have been lost or compromised.
According to the prosecutors, the government could demonstrate a specific need for the classified evidence, so Mr. Trump cannot establish executive privilege over the evidence. They stated that they would send Mr. Trump copies of all the unclassified materials the FBI seized, including personal and government data, and return some of his personal belongings that were not mixed with the classified information.