The Justice Department is appealing a judge’s decision to name an independent arbiter to review records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.
The Justice Department is preparing to appeal a judge’s decision granting the appointment of an independent arbiter to review records seized in a criminal investigation by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, AP reports.
Citing national security concerns and other factors, the department also asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to put on hold her directive prohibiting it from using the seized classified records for investigative purposes while it contests her ruling.
“Without a stay, the government and public also will suffer irreparable harm from the undue delay to the criminal investigation,” department lawyers said in a motion Thursday in which they announced their intent to appeal the order to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 21-page Justice Department filing lays bare the government’s concern about the impact it believes will be caused by the judge’s order, which temporarily halted core aspects of its criminal investigation, and its continued objections to the planned appointment of a “special master” to conduct an independent review of the records taken from Mar-a-Lago. Already, the department said, the intelligence community has paused its separate risk assessment that the judge had permitted to continue because of “uncertainty regarding the bounds of the Court’s order.”
The department gave the judge until next Thursday to stay her original order, saying it would otherwise ask the federal appeals court to do so. Though such an appeal will almost certainly result in further delays to its underlying investigation, the department made clear throughout its motion its belief that it would be “injured” beyond repair if the judge’s order was permitted to stand.
The judge gave the Trump team until Monday morning to respond to the Justice Department motion.
The FBI has been investigating for months what it says was the unlawful retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago as well as efforts to obstruct the probe. It is not clear whether Trump or anyone else will face charges.
Reacting to Thursday’s motion, Trump renewed his attacks on the entire investigation.
“So now the FBI and Biden Department of ‘Justice’ leakers are going to spend Millions of Dollars, & vast amounts of Time and Energy, to appeal the order on the ‘Raid of Mar-a-Lago document hoax,’” he wrote on his Truth Social platform.
The FBI seized 33 boxes and containers with more than 100 documents with classified markings, including some designated top-secret, during an Aug. 8 search of the property. Those records have been segregated from the thousands of non-classified documents that were taken, the department said.
The Trump legal team had asked the judge, a Trump appointee, to name a special master — in many cases, a lawyer or retired judge — to examine the seized documents to ensure that personal materials are returned to him and that any privileged records are weeded out from the rest of the investigation.
In a procedural win for the ex-president, Cannon granted that request, agreeing to appoint an arbiter to inspect the records and filter out any that may be protected by claims not only of attorney-client privilege but executive privilege too. She also directed the FBI to temporarily stop using those documents in its investigation until a report from the special master or “further court order.”
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