Sunday, October 2, 2022

DOJ appeals special master decision

Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago

Source: Department of Justice

The Department of Justice on Thursday appealed to a federal judge’s ruling to authorize a special master to review documents that the FBI seized from the Florida residence of former President Donald Trump.

The Justice Department also asked Judge Aileen Cannon to pause her related order blocking the government from further reviewing documents marked classified that were found during last month’s search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach resort home.

The moves came three days after Cannon approved Trump’s request for a special master to sift through the seized materials to identify personal items and records that are protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

The DOJ had opposed that request, saying it had already completed a privilege review of the documents, and that a special master could harm the government’s national security interests.

The FBI seized more than ten thousand government records when it raided Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. Many of those documents bore classification markings, including dozens of folders that were empty when they were collected by the FBI.

Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, wrote in his ruling Monday in US District in southern Florida that “the country is served best by an orderly process that promotes the interest and perception of fairness.”

The DOJ’s appeal was filed at the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which holds appellate jurisdiction over cases from district courts in Florida.

The DOJ also asked Cannon to stay her order that blocks the agency from further reviewing and using the seized documents with classification markings for criminal investigative purposes, pending the appeal. Last week, the department revealed that the FBI seized more than 100 classified documents during the raid.

The DOJ said in Thursday’s filing that it is likely to succeed on its appeal as it applies to the classified records, which represent a fraction of the documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump “does not and could not assert that he owns or has any possessory interest in classified records; that he has any right to have those government records returned to him; or that he can advance any plausible claims of attorney-client privilege as to such records that would bar the government from reviewing or using them,” the DOJ wrote.

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