October 5, 2022

Justice Department appeals ruling on special master in Trump case, says suspension could “irreparably injure” the investigation

Washington –The Justice Department filed the notice on Thursday appeal A Florida federal court ruling ordered a special master, or an independent third party, to review documents seized by federal law enforcement officials at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Judge Eileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, ruled Monday Federal investigators probing whether Trump mishandled classified documents must stop using the seized documents in their criminal investigation, pending a special master’s review.

The Justice Department asked Cannon to partially vacate his own ruling so that investigators could continue to review 103 highly sensitive documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, which have classified identities, including TOP SECRET, the highest level of classification.

Trump and his lawyers have until Monday morning to respond to the request to re-examine the documents.

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

In his 24-page ruling earlier this week, Cannon wrote in support of Trump’s legal team that an independent review was necessary and would examine “potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.” The ruling allowed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to examine potential national security risks from the seized recordings, even as criminal investigators were barred from accessing them.

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

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

But in Thursday’s motion, which detailed its concerns, the Justice Department argued otherwise; Stopping their investigation poses a major threat to national security and intelligence review of records cannot be done effectively without the involvement of criminal investigators. The investigation and the public, the lawyers wrote, were “irreparably injured” by the suspension.

“Current Intelligence Community (“IC”) classification review and evaluation are closely intertwined with DOJ’s and FBI’s current investigative areas of criminal investigation. “It can be very difficult to separate FBI personnel working in criminal investigations from those working with other departments or agencies in the IC.”

Thursday’s filing said the 103 documents with classified identities were separated from the thousands of remaining records already seized, and that the intelligence community had actually suspended analysis of the documents because of “uncertainty” caused by Cannon’s Monday order.

Trump is FBI Legal
FILE – An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen in the evening on Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. The FBI document doesn’t just provide new details about the investigation at Mar-a-Lago. about the trial but also reveals clues about the arguments his legal team intends to make. A May 25 letter from one of his attorneys, attached as an exhibit to the affidavit, presents a broader view of executive power, asserting that the commander-in-chief has full authority to declassify anything he wants and that primary law restricts dealing with classifieds. The information applies to other government officials but not to the President.

Steve Helper / AP

In his lawsuit, Trump alleged that the Justice Department’s search warrant that prompted the August 8 search was “excessive” and that investigators obtained “speculatively privileged” information. Cannon’s comments earlier this week said he thought the claim warranted further review.

Prosecutors strongly objected to that characterization and activated a screening committee to conduct its own review of the material. On Thursday, they argued that the special prima facie review does not apply to records with classified identities because such documents clearly belong to the government and not Trump.

“There is no justification for the injunctive relief and special prima facie review to extend to classified records. The classification marks on the face of the documents establish that they are government records, not plaintiff’s personal records.”

Investigators are looking into allegations that classified documents were mishandled when Trump moved from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago home after his transition to the presidency in 2021. It culminated in a search on August 8 in three separate incidents earlier this year. The National Archives and the FBI have recovered documents from the Florida resort. They are also looking into whether Trump or his team obstructed the investigation by not properly responding to a grand jury subpoena, which prosecutors reiterated in their motion Thursday.

Trump’s A special master request Two weeks later the FBI seized 33 items from the property and a storage room in the former presidential office. More than 100 classified documents were found in 13 boxes or containers, while three documents with the classification marks “Secret” and “Confidential” were taken from Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department revealed. Last filing.

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

Both the classified documents and the empty folders, prosecutors wrote Thursday, pose potential risks to national security that warrant continuing the investigation.

“The FBI is primarily responsible for investigating materials once stored in these folders and whether they may have been lost or compromised — again, which may require the use of grand jury subpoenas, search warrants, and other criminal investigations that lead to tools and evidence that are more relevant to advancing a criminal investigation,” they argued.

To underscore the urgency of their request, the Justice Department included a statement written by Alan Koehler, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

“The FBI can access the evidence, copy it, find what’s relevant [intelligence community] The agency…shall be granted,” Koehler wrote. The declaration carries a penalty for perjury.

Cannon ordered Monday that the Justice Department and Trump’s legal team must submit potential candidates for the special master’s role by Friday.

Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, responded to the Justice Department’s response on social media, calling the investigators “leaks” and praising Cannon’s initial ruling, calling him “smart” and “courageous.”

The judge noted in his ruling that the FBI’s filtering team found medical and tax documents among the seized records and that in two cases, privileged information found its way into the hands of the filter and investigators. The Justice Department has asked the court to release the report prepared by the filter committee.