US Department of Justice appeals ruling for special master on Trump records

Former US president Donald Trump speaks during the America First Policy Institute's America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC, US, on 26 July 2022. (Photo: Al Drago / Bloomberg)

The US Department of Justice will appeal a federal judge’s ruling for a neutral third party to review documents seized by the FBI from former president Donald Trump’s Florida home.

The federal government filed a notice of appeal with the US District Court in the Southern District of Florida on Thursday.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday granted Trump’s request for a so-called special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8. Cannon, a Trump appointee, also temporarily barred the government from using the trove of documents to develop its criminal investigation into the former president’s handling of sensitive records.

The government said it’s only seeking to halt the judge’s order as it pertains to classified records that were seized by agents last month. “The classified records – a discrete set of just over 100 documents – have already been segregated from the other seized records and are being maintained separately,” the department said in the filing.

The Department of Justice also requested emergency approval to continue using documents with classification markings as part of its ongoing criminal investigation.

Not being allowed to use those documents “will cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public”, the department said in a separate filing.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice and Trump were to submit their special master candidates on Friday. If they can’t agree, the judge will choose someone.

Cannon had said the government could continue to access the documents – many of them bearing the nation’s highest classification markings – for the limited purposes of conducting a national security review that’s already under way.

Cannon ruled that the special master could review the seized materials for both attorney-client privilege and executive privilege. The Department of Justice argued that a former president cannot assert executive privilege against the administration of the sitting president, but the judge said the Supreme Court had not settled that issue.

Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.


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