Department of Justice Mar-a-Lago files notice of appeal of special master

The Justice Department said it will appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master to examine thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida home on Aug. 8.

Judge Eileen M. Cannon received a notice of appeal three days later He said he ruled in favor of Trump He will appoint a special master to slow — at least temporarily — the investigation into the mishandling of highly classified information, as well as the concealment, tampering or destruction of government records.

The Justice Department wrote in a brief that it will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A separate, simultaneous In court filings, attorneys asked Cannon His decision of September 5 must be stayed on two main counts. Part of a court-authorized search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Aug. 8.

The Post’s Perry Stein explains how a special master will identify if any documents seized by the FBI are protected by attorney-client or administrative privilege. (Video: The Washington Post)

Ultimately, the Justice Department said a special master could be appointed, but the judge argued that the special master should be barred from reviewing classified documents. The special master will still be able to sort personal documents and other materials seized by the FBI, setting aside necessary materials, the filing states.

Read the Justice Department’s filing asking Judge Cannon to partially block his order

Allowing a special master to review the classified material would “cause the most immediate and grave harm to the government and the public,” the lawyers wrote, adding that the documents have already been moved to a secure facility separate from the rest of Trump’s seized documents. Papers.

They argued that Cannon would harm national security by barring investigators from using the classified materials discovered in August until a special master could dispose of them, and by impeding the Justice Department’s ability to recover any other classified documents still outstanding.

Blocking the FBI’s use of classified material in the investigation “could impede efforts to discover the existence of additional classified records that are not properly stored — which presents the potential for continued risk to national security,” the prosecutors wrote — the first time they have suggested in court filings that there may be unprotected classified material that has yet to be discovered.

Special masters and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents: What you need to know

Trump’s legal team Argued in federal court in West Palm Beach Last week, a special master was required to decide whether more than 100 of the documents were classified because of attorney-client or administrative privilege. They also said an independent outside expert would boost “confidence” in the judiciary’s criminal investigation.

Justice Department attorneys told Cannon they had already sorted through the documents, with a “filtering panel” that could separate more than 500 pages of documents by attorney-client privilege. That arrangement was approved by a US magistrate judge, who authorized a search warrant for Trump’s Florida home and private club, Mar-a-Lago. The administration has been trying for months to get Trump and to return all government documents held by his advisers on the property.

The Justice Department has argued that executive privilege cannot be asserted after a former president leaves office, nor can one part of the executive branch secure documents from another.

Although Trump asserted executive privilege, the Justice Department argued in its Thursday appeal that the government’s “demonstrated, specific need” to access classified material would override that privilege. Prosecutors also said Trump had no clear need to keep the classified documents.

“Among other things, the classified records are the subject of an ongoing government investigation,” the filing states.

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago Papers: A Chronology

In its original ruling, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it could continue its analysis of the potential risk to national security by removing classified documents from government custody. .

But Justice Department lawyers said Thursday that it is difficult to separate the FBI investigation from the intelligence review. They said they were unsure of the “limitations” and “implications” of the court order, prompting the intelligence community to temporarily halt its review along with criminal investigators.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that one of the documents was seized by the FBI A foreign government’s military defenses describe its nuclear capabilities, The people familiar with the situation spoke on condition of anonymity. The people also reported that the seized documents detail details of U.S. operations that have been closely guarded because many senior national security officials have been kept in the dark.

A special master’s appointment means investigators can’t use the documents they’ve seized until an outside expert destroys them, Cannon’s appeal of the decision said. The judiciary has its own legal risks.

The appeals process may take longer than any document review by the Special Master. And if the case goes to the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump appointees, there is no guarantee the government will prevail.

This is a growing story. It will be updated.

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