DOJ appeals decision to order special master to review evidence seized in Mar-a-Lago search

The government has halted the intelligence community’s risk assessment of classified documents obtained during last month’s search of former President Donald Trump’s home and resort.
In addition to its appeal, the Justice Department asked Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Ellen Cannon, who ordered the special master, to continue reviewing documents being conducted for the FBI’s criminal investigation — a review the judge halted. Prosecutors argued that the criminal investigation could not be separated from the intelligence community review.
“The application of an injunction to classified records would thus depress the government’s ability to conduct an effective national security risk assessment and classification review and may prevent the government from taking necessary remedial steps in the light of that review – thereby causing irreparable harm to our national security.” damage. and the interest of intelligence,” the DOJ wrote in the stay request.

The Justice Department had strongly opposed the appointment of a special master, a third-party attorney tasked with reviewing evidence and filtering privileged documents. The department argued to Canon that the independent review was not necessary given the internal DOJ filter practices used in the search.

In his Monday order acknowledging Trump’s request for a special master, Cannon barred any use of the confiscated material for the DOJ’s criminal investigation. However, she said the intelligence community’s assessment may continue. Thursday’s filing from the Justice Department highlights how the two efforts are intertwined.
Why It Won't Be Easier To Find A Special Master For Trump Mar-a-Lago Documents

The DOJ said Thursday, “The injunction against using classified records in criminal investigations could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being stored properly – which in themselves could be a threat to national security.” presents the potential for ongoing risks.”

Prosecutors pointed to empty folders marked with “classified banners” that were found in the search at Mar-a-Lago.

“The FBI will be primarily responsible for investigating what materials may have once been stored in these folders and whether they have been lost or compromised – steps that may be re-submitted by grand jury summons. , search warrants and the use of other criminals may be required. There may be investigative tools and evidence that will also be highly relevant to further criminal investigations, the DOJ said.

The prosecutor described the intelligence community’s review as allowing Cannon to proceed as “just one aspect of an overall effort by the government to respond to and mitigate any risk to national security”. For example, determining “the possibility that improperly stored classified information could be accessed and compromised by others” is “a core aspect of the FBI’s criminal investigation,” prosecutors said.

“The departments and agencies in the IC will then consider this information to determine whether they need to compromise certain sources and methods,” prosecutors said.

Pushback for role-playing executive privilege with classified documents

Canon also ordered that independent review seek documents potentially covered by executive privilege – in addition to attorney-client privilege concerns that are usually the focus of a particular master.

The move, described as novel by both the Justice Department and outside legal experts, stands to prolong the review as the criminal investigation is hampered by Cannon’s injunction.

Requesting that criminal investigators be allowed access to classified documents, the Justice Department on Thursday rejected the idea that the privilege could ever apply to classified material.

Read: DOJ proposes to stay order of special master review for Mar-a-Lago documents

“The Supreme Court precedent makes clear that any potential claim of privilege that the plaintiff may attempt to create a classified record would be overcome by the government’s “displayed, specific requirement” for that evidence,” the department said, dated 1974. Citing the case, United States v. Nixon. “Among other things, classified records are the subject of an ongoing government investigation.”

The department also took a dig at how Canon’s order cited a recent Supreme Court order, along with a concurring statement from Justice Brett Kavanaugh, justifying its move to get the review covered executive privileges. . The department noted Thursday that the case includes Trump White House records sought by a congressional committee.

The filing said, “Neither the Supreme Court’s opinion rejected the plaintiff’s request to stay in Thompson, nor did Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring statement suggest that a former president should ask the executive branch to review his own records. and can successfully claim executive privileges to prevent the use.”

Trump filed a lawsuit seeking a special mastermind two weeks after a search warrant was executed at his Mar-a-Lago residence and resort. The FBI is investigating possible breaches of the Espionage Act, criminal misappropriation of government documents and obstruction of justice, according to arguments submitted by the Justice Department to the magistrate judge who approved the warrant.

Cannon has ordered the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers to file legal briefs on their proposed candidates to serve as special masters, as well as make recommendations for how the review should proceed. The judge directed on Thursday that the parties, in a joint presentation due on Friday, “consider the defendant’s position in the form of approximately 100 documents referred to in the request filed by the DOJ.”

Additionally, the judge ordered Trump to file a formal response by 10 a.m. Monday to the Justice Department’s request that the judge suspend parts of his special master order during appeals proceedings.

Prosecutors told Canon that they would seek the intervention of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if it did not accede to his request to suspend parts of his decision by September 15.

This story has been updated with additional details.

Source link