Justice Department asks Supreme Court to reject Trump’s Mar-a-Lago appeal

The Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to deny a motion by Donald Trump’s lawyers in the Mar-a-Lago search case, arguing that allowing an outside arbitrator to review classified documents seized at the Trump’s residence would “irreparably harm” the government and that as a former president he has no “plausible” claim of ownership over sensitive government documents.

It’s the latest twist in the department’s high-stakes investigation into whether the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets, or concealed or destroyed government documents. Prosecutors accused Trump’s team of failing to turn over highly sensitive government documents when asked, and over the summer took the extraordinary step of executing a search warrant at his home and at his private club in South Florida.

Trump said he was being treated unfairly by the Justice Department. Last week, his legal team makes a technical and narrow petition to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to reconsider part of an appeals court decision that granted the Justice Department’s request to separate the classified documents from a review of the seized documents conducted by the outside expert , known as a special master.

FBI agents seized more than 11,000 documents from Trump’s residence and private club in Florida, including 103 with a variety of classification marks. The Washington Post previously reported that authorities recovered a document outlining a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities.

Lawyers for the former president argued that the appeals court had no power to bar the special master from reviewing classified documents. They asked the Supreme Court to allow the outside expert to examine these sensitive government documents.

The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump

The government response said Trump’s emergency application should fail because he did not show how he would be harmed without the Supreme Court’s intervention or that the appeals court’s order was wrong.

“Because the plaintiff has no plausible claim of ownership or privilege in the documents bearing the classification marks, he will suffer no prejudice at all from a temporary stay of the master’s special examination of these documents while the The government’s appeal continues,” Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prélogar wrote in Tuesday’s response to the Supreme Court. “And the plaintiff has further undermined any claim that he suffers irreparable harm as a result of the stay by opposing the government’s motion to expedite the underlying appeal and urging that oral argument be postponed to “January 2023 or later.”

In his September decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit also said the Justice Department could immediately resume using the classified documents in its criminal investigation — something a lower court had barred until the special teacher has completed his examination. While Trump’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to allow the classified documents to be reviewed, they did not ask the judges to bar the government from using those documents in its criminal investigation.

The Justice Department on Tuesday pushed back against arguments by Trump lawyers that the appeals court had no jurisdiction to say what the special master could review, saying the panel of judges had the power to review the entire of the decision appointing a special master, not just parts of it. .

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago Documents: A Timeline

Prelogar noted that “the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting an injunction”, and is appealing the September 5 order. The Justice Department is expected to file its appeal on Friday.

When Trump first called for the appointment of a special master in late August, his lawyers argued that he had retained certain executive privileges since leaving office, which the Justice Department argued that a former president could no longer argue. In Tuesday’s filing, the Solicitor General noted that Trump’s lawyers had “dropped” that argument in recent documents, suggesting that the former president’s lawyers realize he cannot claim that privilege.

“In any event, such an invocation would necessarily yield to the government’s ‘demonstrable and specific need for evidence’ in its criminal investigation into the wrongful retention of these same documents and the obstruction of its efforts to recover them,” the filing states. .

Elsewhere in its 32-page filing, the Justice Department traces the history of the criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of government records at Mar-a-Lago, accusing Trump’s team of likely obstructing the investigation after a grand jury issued a subpoena in May asking “[a]ny and all documents or writings in the custody or control of Donald J. Trump.”

“The FBI has uncovered evidence that the response to the grand jury subpoena was incomplete, that additional classified documents likely remained at Mar-a-Lago, and that efforts were likely undertaken to impede the investigation,” it said. the folder.

In response, investigators approached a judge to authorize a search warrant, which FBI agents executed at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.

Trump chose a third of the nine justices of the Supreme Court, a body that has shifted to the right on issues dear to conservatives, such as abortion, gun rights and religion. But the court was a disappointment for the former president on issues that concern him personally.

In July 2020, the Supreme Court flatly rejected Trump’s bold claims of immunity from local law enforcement and congressional investigators. He dismissed multiple challenges to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his allies. And after the presidency, the court denied his request to retain certain White House documents from the congressional committee investigating the January 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, with only Judge Clarence Thomas indicating he would support Trump’s plea.

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