Justice Department formally appeals appointment of special captain in Mar-a-Lago documents case


The Department of Justice has formally appealed the appointment of the Special Master, who oversees the review of documents seized of the former president donald trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Estate, in a brief filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday.

The Justice Department centered its brief on a sweeping critique of lower courts Judge Aileen Cannon‘s, arguing that she had no authority to interfere with their federal criminal investigation. The Justice Department is asking the federal appeals court to overturn Cannon’s order and end the master’s special examination of the documents.

“The district courts have no equitable general authority to oversee federal criminal investigations,” the brief states. “[I]Instead, challenges to the government’s use of evidence recovered in a search are resolved through the ordinary practice of criminal motions if and when charges are filed. Here, however, the district court granted the extraordinary relief sought by the plaintiff…. »

The Justice Department also argued that Trump had no reason to interfere with the review of executive documents by the Justice Department, which itself is part of the executive branch.

Additionally, department prosecutors pointed out that Trump never claimed attorney-client privilege over the 11,000 documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago in August that would have warranted the appointment of a special master. The Justice Department has argued that the screening procedures it has already used are sufficient to shield any sensitive documents from scrutiny by investigators.

“[Trump] has no plausible claim to such privilege with respect to records bearing classification marks or any other government records related to his official duties,” the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department said any documents seized at Mar-a-Lago could be evidence of crimes.

The department argued that investigators needed access to classified documents as they were investigating the potential crime of unauthorized withholding of national defense information and also to be able to assess the potential risk to the national security if disclosed. The department said investigators needed access to unclassified documents because they could be evidence that government documents were illegally concealed or suppressed.

The federal appeals court granted the department’s request last month to block aspects of an order by Cannon. This appeal challenges the entire order of Cannon, which granted Trump’s request to appoint a third party to review documents seized from his estate in Florida.

The special master – Raymond Cherie, a Brooklyn-based senior federal judge — has already begun the review process. If the department ultimately succeeds in its appeal, the special prothonotary could be ordered to halt the review process.

This appeal process, however, will take at least several weeks. Although a federal judge granted the department’s request to expedite the appeal, Trump’s legal team still has until Nov. 10 to file a response, and the 11th Circuit will not schedule oral arguments until until the department filed a subsequent response on November 17.

As it stands, the master’s special exam must be completed by Dec. 16, a timeline set in motion by Cannon, a Trump appointee.

After the 11th Circuit intervened last month to allow the Justice Department access to about 100 of the documents marked classified, Trump filed an emergency petition asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute. On Thursday, the high court rejected his request.

That of the Supreme Court decision not to intervene means that, for the time being, the classified documents will remain out of reach of the special master.

The department, in its Supreme Court filing, argued that the U.S. 11th Circuit found that Cannon had “abused its discretion” and inflicted “a serious and unwarranted intrusion on the authority of the executive branch to control the use and distribution of extremely sensitive government documents”.

The GM says the seized documents taken from Mar-a-Lago during the FBI search totals 21,792 pages. The collection excludes documents seized by the FBI that have already been filtered out for confidentiality reasons and the 100 documents marked as classified found during the search.

The National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, has been suing for years to recover all federally owned records that were created during the Trump administration.

NARA’s back-and-forth with Trump and his liaisons led earlier this year to the return of boxes and envelopes full of files by former administration officials and lawyers. NARA’s discoveries in one of these collections sparked a Justice Department investigation into August’s mishandling of classified documents and search at Mar-a-Lago. NARA said some Trump administration presidential files remain outstanding, citing reports that some White House staffers were using unofficial electronic systems to conduct official business.

DOJ’s call for special master appointment comes days after CNN reported that a Trump employee told the FBI he was ordered by the former president to move boxes from a basement to his residence in Mar-a-Lago — after Trump’s legal team received a subpoena for any classified document at the Florida estate.

The Trump employee initially denied handling any sensitive documents or boxes at Mar-a-Lago, the source said. But the FBI developed evidence that prompted investigators to return to the witness, who revised their story to say that Trump gave instructions to move the boxes, the source said.

Testimony of Trump’s actions after the subpoena was served in May coupled with the images could be key to the federal criminal investigation which examines a range of potential crimes, including obstruction, destruction of government documents and mishandling of classified information.

The Ministry of Justice has already alleged that the complex’s classified documents were ‘likely concealed and removed’ from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago as part of an effort to ‘hinder’ the FBI’s investigation into potential document mishandling classified by Trump.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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