Justice Department moves to stay order in Trump documents case

Justice Department moves to stay order in Trump documents case

Washington – The Justice Department asked the th Circuit Court of Appeals to temporarily suspend a portion order by a Florida federal judge preventing the government from using certain documents it seized at the residence of former President Donald Trump while an independent third party reviews them.

On Friday, the department filed a motion asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to partially stay U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order, arguing that the U.S. District Court lacks the authority to ban the FBI from reviewing 103 documents bearing classified markings it seized from Mar-a-Lago in August.

“The District Court erred in exercising jurisdiction as records bearing classification marks,” the Justice Department stated in its Friday night filing.

Further the Justice Department stated that records with classification markings were not subject to any plausible claim for privilege that would prohibit the government reviewing them and using them. It argued that records marked classified could not be the subject of Trump’s personal privilege claims.

“The order of the district court regarding records bearing classification markings is not justified,” said the Justice Department. It also stated that it would be irreparably hurt if it did not grant a partial stay to allow it to continue its investigation. “

The department filed notice last Thursday that it would appeal the ruling.

Cannon, appointed to the bench by Trump, ruled earlier this month that the federal investigators probing whether Trump mishandled classified documents were to stop using the seized documents in their criminal probe, pending the review of an independent third party, a special master. Cannon appointed Raymond Dearie, U.S. District Judge, to act as the independent arbiter. He will review the records and filter out any personal items or material that could be subject to executive privileges or attorney-client claims.

In its 152-page filing, the department did not contest the naming of a special master, but instead limited its arguments to the government’s right to continue its investigation into whether the former president mishandled the nation’s most sensitive information. It also argued that the department should not be required to hand over classified documents to the special master.

“Although the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting injunctive relief, the government seeks to stay only the portions of the order causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public by (1) restricting the government’s review and use of records bearing classification markings and (2) requiring the government to disclose those records for a special-master review process,.” The Justice Department stated.

Cannon declined Thursday to grant the government’s request that she partially lift her own ruling so that investigators could continue reviewing the 103 documents with classified markings, writing, “The court does not find it appropriate to accept the government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion.”

The documents marked classified were already separated from the rest of the seized records. However, the intelligence community stopped its analysis of the documents because of “uncertainty” caused in part by Cannon’s order that Justice Department investigators could not examine them until the special master (U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie) completes his review.

Prosecutors have argued that Dearie’s review should not apply to the records with classified markings because such documents explicitly belonged to the government, and not to Trump.

Investigators are examining allegations that documents with classified markings were mishandled when they were transferred from the White House to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence after the presidential transition in 2021. In three separate instances earlier this year leading up to the August 8 search, the National Archives and the FBI recovered thousands of documents from the Florida resort. They are also investigating whether Trump and his team interfered with the investigation by failing to respond to a grand jury subpoena. Prosecutors reiterated this motion on Thursday.

Trump’s request for a special master came two weeks after the FBI took 33 items from a storage room on the property and the former president’s office. More than 100 documents with classified markings were found in 13 boxes or containers, while three documents with “confidential” and “secret” classification markings were taken from desks in Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department revealed in past filings.

Cannon stated in her ruling Thursday, that the FBI’s filter group had found tax and medical documents in the seized records. In addition, three documents with “confidential” and “secret” classification markings were taken from Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department revealed in past filings that potentially privileged information was passed through the filter and into investigators’ hands. The Justice Department has asked the court to unseal a report that was prepared by the filter team.

Andres Triay, Robert Legare and Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

Read More