WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Friday to lift a judge’s order temporarily barring it from reviewing a batch of classified documents seized during an FBI search of the former President Donald Trump’s Florida home last month.
The department told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta that the judge’s arrest impeded “the government’s efforts to protect the nation’s security” and interfered with its investigation into the presence of top secret information at Mar-a-Lago. He said the hold should be lifted immediately so work could resume.
“The government and the public would suffer irreparable harm if there were not a stay,” attorneys for the department wrote in their brief to the appeals court.
The judge’s appointment of a “special master” to review the documents, and the resulting legal wrangling, looks set to further slow the department’s criminal investigation. It is not yet clear whether Trump, who has laid the groundwork for another possible presidential bid, or someone else could be indicted.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon earlier this month ordered the department to halt use of the records pending a new court order, or the completion of a report by an independent arbitrator. that it must conduct its own inspection of the documents and remove anything covered by claims of legal privilege.
On Thursday night, he assigned Raymond Dearie, the former chief judge of the Brooklyn-based federal court, as an arbitrator, also known as a special master. She also declined to lift an order preventing the department from using about 100 seized documents marked classified as classified, citing ongoing disputes over the nature of the documents that she said merited 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 put his own order on hold by Thursday and said if he didn’t, it would ask the appeals court to intervene.
The FBI says it took about 11,000 documents, including roughly 100 with classification marks found in a storage room and an office, while serving a court-authorized search warrant at 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 sift through the records and filter out any that might be covered by claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.
In appointing Dearie on Thursday, he granted him access to the entire tranche of documents, including classified records. She ordered him to complete his review by Nov. 30 and prioritize the review of classified documents, ordering the Justice Department to allow Trump’s legal team to inspect classified records under “conditions of controlled access “.
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 do not contain any communication between Trump and his lawyers that could be covered by the attorney-client privilege, and said the former president could not credibly invoke the privilege. executive to protect government documents that do not belong to him. research
Although the department had argued that its work was being unduly impeded by the judge’s order, Cannon disagreed and noted in his order Thursday that officials could continue with other aspects of their investigation , how to interview witnesses.