Justice Department appeals for access to Trump’s classified Mar-a-Lago documents

This photo that was included in a court filing submitted by the Department of Justice on August 30 shows a collection of documents seized by the FBI on August 8 during the execution of a search warrant on the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump. File Photo via Department of Justice/UPI

Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Justice Department late Friday petitioned a federal appeals court to block part of a lower judge’s ruling regarding the appointment of a special master to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago last month.

The 29-page filing came just a day after U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, appointed by Trump, rejected a request from the Justice Department to lift an injunction preventing investigators from resuming their investigation of his handling of the documents until the special master review ends.

In the filing, made to the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Justice Department did not contest the appointment of Raymond Dearie as special master but asked for the FBI to regain its access to the 100 classified documents seized from Trump’s residence in Florida.

The Justice Department also asked the appeals court not to submit the classified documents for special master review, which will last months.

“Although the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting injunctive relief, the government seeks to stay on the portions of the order causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public,” the filing reads.

The Justice Department argued that it will “suffer irreparable harm” if the stay is not granted but that it will likely succeed on the merits of its argument that attorney-client privilege or executive privilege cannot apply to the classified documents and so they cannot be returned to Trump.

“The court’s order hamstrings that investigation and places the FBI and Department of Justice under a Damoclean threat of contempt should the court later disagree with how investigators disaggregated their previously integrated criminal-investigative and national-security activities,” the Justice Department wrote.

Six of the 11 active judges on the 11th Circuit Appeals Court are Trump appointees and the case will go before a panel of three judges randomly selected by the court.

In her Thursday order, Cannon said that some of the documents seized “undisputedly constitute personal property and privileged materials,” which had bearing on her decision.

The judge allowed the government to continue using the documents for a national-security risk assessment and classification review of the files, but said the government was unlikely to “suffer an irreparable injury” if its criminal investigation does not happen concurrently with such assessments.


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