Justice Department appeals ruling on special master in Trump case, says investigation could be

Washington —The Justice Department filed notice Thursday that it is appealing the decision of a Florida federal court that called for a special master or a commission to review documents seized by federal law enforcement at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Appointed independent third party.

Judge Eileen Cannon, appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020 monday That federal investigators are investigating whether Trump mishandled classified documents was to stop using documents pending a special master’s review in his criminal investigation.

The Justice Department also asked Cannon to partially lift its own decision so that investigators can continue to review the 103 most sensitive documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, including Top Secret, the highest classification level classified mark. were involved.

Trump and his lawyers have until Monday morning to respond to a request to resume the investigation of the documents.

The Justice Department’s appeal will be considered by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In his 24-page decision earlier this week, Cannon sided with Trump’s legal team that an independent review was necessary and wrote that a special master was “potentially privileged subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.” Will analyze the material.” The ruling allowed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to investigate potential national security risks from confiscated records, even when criminal investigators were barred from accessing them.

Canon’s order was heavily criticized by many in the legal community, including Trump’s former attorney general. William Barrow,

Trump, the judge wrote, faces “disproportionate potential harm through improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” and a special master, Cannon argued, could serve to mitigate that potential harm.

But in Thursday’s motion, which detailed its concerns, the Justice Department argued the opposite; That withholding their investigation causes serious harm to national security and that intelligence review of records cannot be conducted effectively without the involvement of criminal investigators. The investigation and the public at large, prosecutors wrote, could be “irreparably injured” by the pause.

“The ongoing Intelligence Community (“IC”) classification review and evaluation are closely aligned with the areas of investigation of the DOJ and the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigations, and are easily accessible, the Justice Department’s filing said Thursday. cannot be separated.” “It is extremely difficult to separate FBI personnel working on criminal investigations from those working closely with other departments or agencies in the IC.”

Thursday’s filing also revealed that 103 documents bearing classified markings were already separate from the remaining thousands of seized records and that the Intelligence Community had in fact halted its analysis of the documents due to “uncertainty” caused by Cannon’s Monday order. .

Trump FBI Legal
FILE – An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen near dusk on August 10, 2022 in Palm Beach, Fla. New unsealed FBI documents about the investigation at Mar-a-Lago provide not only new details about the investigation but also clues about his legal team’s arguments. A May 25 letter from one of his lawyers, attached as a display of the affidavit, puts forward a broad view of executive power, stating that the commander-in-chief has the absolute right to declassify whatever he wants. and that the primary law governs handling. The information applies to other government officials but not to the president.

Steve Halber / AP


In his lawsuit, Trump accused the Justice Department’s search warrant that the August 8 search was “overbroad” and that investigators took “presumably privileged” information. Canon’s opinion earlier this week indicated that it thought the claim needed further review.

Prosecutors have strongly opposed that characterization and implemented a filter team to conduct their own review of the material. And on Thursday, he argued that the special master review should not apply to records bearing classified markings because such documents clearly belonged to the government and not Trump.

“There is no justification for extending an injunction and special-master review to classified records. Classification marks establish on the face of documents that they are government records, not plaintiffs’ personal records.”

Investigators are probing allegations that documents bearing classified markings were misplaced from Trump’s White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence after the president’s transition in 2021. In three separate instances earlier this year that culminated in an Aug. 8 search, the National Archives and the FBI recovered multiple documents from a Florida resort. They are also investigating whether Trump or his team hindered the investigation by not properly responding to a grand jury summons, which prosecutors reiterated in their motion on Thursday.

Trump’s Request for a Special Guru It came two weeks after the FBI took 33 items from a storage room in the property and the former president’s office. More than 100 documents bearing classification markings were found in 13 boxes or containers, while three documents with “confidential” and “secret” classification marks were taken from desks in Trump’s office in Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department revealed. previous filing,

The FBI also found 48 empty folders containing “classified” banners with newspaper and magazine articles, books and pieces of clothing placed in boxes or containers retrieved from the storage room.

Both the classified documents and the empty folders, prosecutors wrote Thursday, pose a potential risk to national security that warrants continued investigations.

“The FBI will be primarily responsible for investigating what material may have once been stored in these folders and whether they have been lost or compromised—steps that would again be considered grand jury subpoena, The use of search warrants and other criminal investigations may be required. There may be tools and evidence which will also be highly relevant for pursuing criminal investigations,” he argued.

To underscore the urgency of their request, the Justice Department specifically included a declaration written by Alan Koehler, the FBI’s assistant director for the Counter Intelligence Division.

“The FBI must be able to access the evidence, copy it, decipher the appropriate [intelligence community] agency … to whom it must be provided,” Kohler wrote. The declaration carries a penalty of perjury.

Cannon ordered Monday that the Justice Department and Trump’s legal team submit potential candidates for the role of Special Master by Friday.

Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, reacted to the Justice Department’s response on social media, calling investigators a “leaker” and praising Cannon’s initial decision, calling it “brilliant” and “courageous.”

The judge noted in his ruling that the FBI’s filter team found medical and tax documents in the seized records and disclosed that in two cases, potentially privileged information made its way through the filter and into the hands of investigators. The Justice Department has since asked the court to close a report prepared by the filter team.

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