Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

The US Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Friday to lift a judge’s order temporarily barring it from viewing a trove of classified documents seized during an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home last month.

The department told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that the judge’s demeanor interfered with the government’s “efforts to protect the nation’s security” and interfered with its investigation into the presence of classified information at Mar-a-Lago. It said the suspension must be lifted immediately so that work can resume.

“The government and the public would suffer irreparable harm without a stay,” attorneys for the department wrote in their filing with the appeals court.

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Trump’s selection as a special master in charge of document review, further delaying the investigation

The judge’s appointment of a “special master” to review the documents, and the resulting legal wrangling, looks set to further slow down the department’s criminal investigation. It remains unclear whether Trump, who has been laying the groundwork for another potential presidential run, or anyone else could be charged.

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon earlier this month ordered the department to suspend use of the records until further court order or until the completion of a report by an independent arbitrator who will conduct his own inspection of the documents and rule out any legal confidentiality claims involved.

On Thursday night, it assigned Raymond Dearie, a former chief judge of the Brooklyn-based federal court, to serve as an arbitrator — also known as a special master. She also refused to lift an order preventing the department from using about 100 seized documents marked confidential for its investigation, citing ongoing disputes over the nature of the documents, which she said deserve a neutral review.

“The Court does not see fit to accept the Government’s findings on these important and contentious issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly manner,” she wrote.

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Trump Mar-a-Lago search: A look at what’s next for intelligence review of documents

The Justice Department last week asked Cannon to put his order on hold until Thursday and said if he didn’t, it would ask the appeals court to step in.

The FBI says it seized about 11,000 documents, including roughly 100 classified documents found in a warehouse and office, while serving a warrant to search the home. A few weeks after the hearing, Trump’s lawyers asked the judge to appoint a special master to conduct an independent review of the records.

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In her Sept. 5 order, Cannon agreed to appoint a special master to review records and filter out anything that might be covered by claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

Click to play video: 'Congressional report on Mar-a-Lago documents key to understanding amount of intelligence at risk, says senator'

Congressional briefing on Mar-a-Lago documents key to understanding amount of intelligence at risk, senator says

Congressional briefing on Mar-a-Lago documents key to understanding amount of intelligence at risk, senator says

By appointing Dearie on Thursday, she granted him access to an entire trove of documents, including classified records. She ordered him to complete his review by Nov. 30 and prioritize the review of classified documents, and ordered the Justice Department to allow Trump’s legal team to review classified records under “controlled access conditions.”

The Justice Department disagreed with the judge that the special master should be authorized to review classified records. It said the classified records that were seized did not contain communications between Trump and his lawyers that could be covered by attorney-client privilege, and said the former president could not credibly invoke confidentiality to protect government documents that do not belong to him from investigation.

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Although the department argued that its work was unduly hampered by the judge’s order, Cannon disagreed, noting in her order Thursday that officials can continue with other aspects of their investigation, such as questioning witnesses.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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