September 28, 2022

Trump is asking a judge to block the FBI from working with the seized classified files

Former President Donald J. Former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers asked.

Mr. Renewing its request for a comprehensive independent review of records seized from Trump, the former president’s legal team argued that documents marked classified should be off limits to the FBI and prosecutors. They judge, Eileen M. They asked Cannon to abide by an order barring agents from using any items taken from his estate until an outside arbitrator, known as a special master, had examined them all.

The 21 page filing Mr. It was an aggressive denunciation of the Justice Department’s extensive investigation into whether Trump or his aides illegally kept national security secrets at his property, Mar-a-Lago, or obstructed the government’s continued efforts to recover the items. It downgraded the criminal investigation to a “storage dispute” and prompted authorities to leak information about the contents of the files.

“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is unprecedented and improper,” the filing said. “At its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, with the government wrongly trying to criminalize the 45th president’s possession of his own presidential and personal records.”

The filing on Monday is the latest salvo in what threatens to be a protracted court battle over a special master and the powers that person should have to sift through the trove of seized documents. At the heart of that dispute is whether special ex parte review should extend to barring investigators from using any records that might be protected by executive privilege.

Mr. to the Washington area. The filing, which came on Trump’s return, underscores how he has succeeded in using procedural sideshows to thwart criminal investigations. Classified documents in his possession.

Prosecutors last week asked Judge Cannon to reopen the hearings with about 100 documents marked as classified, a small portion of the nearly 13,000 items seized by the FBI during the court-authorized raid on Aug. 8 at Mar-a-Lago.

They said they barred the intelligence community from using it to review the potential harms of insecurely storing national security secrets and to review the classification of materials, arguing those efforts are inextricably intertwined with criminal investigations.

But on Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers rejected the government’s claims, saying the claims were “exaggerated” and that only a “brief pause” was needed to allow the special master’s review to be completed. (On Friday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers indicated they expected the review to take three months.)

“This convenient and belated claim by the government regarding limiting the criminal group’s access to these documents arises because the FBI acknowledges that the intelligence community’s review is actually just another aspect of its criminal investigation,” they argued.

But Mr. Trump’s filing left open an ambiguous possibility: The FBI could take further action on the documents — including using criminal investigative tools like subpoenas — if their purpose is to help the intelligence community assess risk.

That provision does not address the possibility that such actions may further a criminal investigation.

The controversy over the special master has already delayed the briefing of the seized materials to top congressional leaders and the heads of congressional intelligence committees, a person familiar with the matter said.

The conflict goes backwards A command Released earlier last week by Trump appointee Judge Cannon, he said he would appoint a special master with broad powers to review all seized materials. In his order, the judge said they could only be scrutinized by the attorney-client privilege, a relatively common practice but unprecedented in a federal criminal trial, the executive privilege.

As part of his order, Judge Cannon told the Justice Department it must wait until the special master’s work is completed to use any records in its investigation. But the judge acknowledged that the intelligence community could use the material in a separate assessment of how the hoarding of former presidential records affected national security.

On Thursday, the Justice Department fired back, telling Judge Cannon more Another filing Intelligence evaluation and criminal investigation are “inextricably linked.” Lawyers have asked her to lift the ban on the use of seized material and to limit the scope of the special magisterial review to unclassified documents, excluding 100 classified seized files.

And prosecutors said they will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta if he doesn’t grant by Thursday a request to stay the part of his ruling that bars investigators from working with classified documents. Intervene and prevent.

On the question of who should be appointed as Special Master, the Department of Justice and Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also fought back. Last week, each side submitted two candidates to Judge Cannon, who will ultimately decide who gets the job.

Both sides said in a joint filing late Friday that they would say by Monday what they think of each other’s proposals.

The Justice Department nominated two retired federal judges: Barbara S., who previously sat on the federal district court for the Southern District of New York; Jones and Thomas B., formerly of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Griffith. .

The Trump legal team hired former federal judge Raymond J. Faced with Thierry. Paul Hough JrFormer Deputy Attorney General in Florida.

In a filing on Monday, Mr. Trump’s legal team sidestepped the question of whether he had declassified all the documents he took to Mar-a-Lago, as he insisted outside of court. As president, Mr Trump has the power to declassify anything he wants, his lawyers have said, and referred to the files as an “appropriated” classified record.

But they stopped short of saying with certainty that he had declassified any files the FBI seized. No credible evidence has emerged to support that assertion, and lawyers face professional consequences for making false claims in court.

Luke Broadwater Contributed report.