Trump, DoJ squabble over ‘special master’ to review Mar-a-Lago records | donald trump

Lawyers for donald trump and the Justice Department squared off in front of a federal judge in Florida on Thursday as they argue over whether to appoint a ‘special master’ to review documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.

Thursday’s hearing at a federal courthouse in West Palm Beach was the latest stage in the dispute that erupted after Trump’s compound and residence were searched on Aug. 8. It ended in the afternoon with no immediate decision. Judge Aileen Cannon said she would issue a written ruling at some point, according to The Associated Press.

The FBI The action, part of an active criminal investigation into the alleged possession of secret documents at Trump’s premises, was the first time a former president had been subjected to such indignity in US history. United States.

Cannon, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, was nominated to the bench by Trump himself in 2020. She indicated that she was inclined to side with the former president and appoint a special master — an outside person, usually a lawyer, who would review the documents to see if any were covered by privilege and should be returned to Trump.

In a filing with judge On Wednesday, Trump’s legal team called for an independent review of the Justice Department’s actions. “The court should direct the special master to conduct a review of all seized documents…to identify documents subject to solicitor-client and/or executive privilege.”

Trump claimed that because the documents were generated while he was president, he had executive privilege over them. He also claimed to have declassified the documents while still in office – although there is no evidence that this was the case.

Prosecutors remain skeptical that the push for a special master is designed to obfuscate and delay the criminal investigation into whether Trump unlawfully removed highly sensitive White House documents at the end of his presidency in January 2021. The tactic was frequently deployed by him in other contexts. , including its real estate transactions.

The Justice Department voiced its opposition to a special master in two separate filings this week. First, On Mondayhe said he had completed his review of documents to filter out everything Trump was entitled to fire and found “a limited set of documents that potentially contain privileged attorney-client information.”

A more detailed file tuesday gave extensive details on why Trump’s wish for an outside review of the DoJ’s actions should be resisted. He stated bluntly that Trump had no right to executive privilege over the documents because “these records do not belong to him.”

He added that the Presidential Records Act (PRA), a 1970s measure to protect official records after Richard Nixon tried to destroy the Watergate files, granted “complete ownership, possession and control” of everything. what is produced within the framework of presidential affairs in the American government. .

The DoJ is pursuing a criminal investigation into how documents were taken from the White House by Trump upon his departure and transferred to Mar-a-Lago in violation of the PRA. It says some of the documents are restricted to the highest level of classification and could endanger US undercover agents.

At least 320 classified documents have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago since January. Of these, more than 100 were seized during the August search.

As an attachment to its latest filing, the DoJ released a photograph of several folders of documents marked “Secret” and “Top Secret” strewn across a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Some of the documents were stamped “NOFORN”, indicating that they should not be seen by a non-US citizen without permission.

The director of national intelligence is examining the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago to see what possible damage they could cause to national security if they fell into the wrong hands.

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