WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court Friday to lift a judge’s order that temporarily barred it from reviewing a batch 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 decision was impeding “the government’s efforts to protect the security of the nation” and interfering with its investigation into the presence of intelligence information. top secret at Mar-a-Lago. He said the suspension had to be lifted immediately so work could resume.
“The government and the public would suffer irreparable harm absent a stay,” attorneys for the department wrote in their appeals court brief.
The judge’s appointment of a “special master” to review the documents, and the ensuing legal dispute, looks likely to further delay the department’s criminal investigation. It’s unclear whether Trump, who has been laying the groundwork for another possible presidential bid, or anyone else could be charged.
Earlier this month, US District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the department to halt use of the records until further court order, or until a report is completed by an independent arbitrator who will do his own inspection of the records. the documents and will discard any covered by claims of legal privilege.
On Thursday night, he assigned Raymond Dearie, the former Brooklyn-based federal court chief judge, to act as arbitrator, also known as a special master. She also refused to lift an order that prevented the department from using some 100 seized documents marked classified for its investigation, citing ongoing disputes over the nature of the documents that she said deserved a neutral review.
“The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s findings on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expeditious and orderly manner,” he wrote.
Last week, the Justice Department asked Cannon to stay his own order by Thursday, saying if he didn’t, it would ask the appeals court to intervene.
The FBI says it took about 11,000 documents, including about 100 with classification marks that were found in a storage room and office, while serving a court-authorized search warrant on the home. Weeks after the search, Trump’s lawyers asked a judge to appoint a special master to conduct an independent review of the records.
In his Sept. 5 order, Cannon agreed to appoint a special master to review the records and screen any that may potentially be covered by claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.
By naming Dearie on Thursday, he granted her access to the entire tranche of documents, including the classified records. She directed him to complete his review by November 30 and to prioritize reviewing classified documents, directing the Justice Department to allow Trump’s legal team to inspect classified records under “controlled access conditions.”
The Justice Department disagreed with the judge that the special master should be empowered to inspect classified records. He said the classified records that were seized contain no communication between Trump and his attorneys that could be covered by attorney-client privilege, and said the former president could not credibly invoke executive privilege to protect government documents that do not belong to him. Of the investigation.
Although the department had argued that its work was being unduly hampered by the judge’s order, Cannon disagreed, noting in his Thursday order that officials could proceed with other aspects of their investigation, such as interviewing witnesses.
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