The U.S. Justice Department is going to appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master for documents and other materials the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.
The notice came in a court filing three days after Judge Aileen Cannon authorized the appointment and ordered investigators to stop using the material for “investigative purposes.”
Requesting a partial stay of the ruling, Justice lawyers asked Cannon to permit investigators to continue using seized classified documents and to withhold them from a special master.
A special master is an independent third party appointed by a court to review documents in sensitive legal cases.
Trump’s lawyers requested a special master to determine if any of the documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege.
But prosecutors said the classified records do not belong to Trump and that allowing an outside party to view them “will cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public.”
Unclassified documents, which make up the bulk of the material seized during the August 8 search of Trump’s residence, would not be impacted by a stay.
Federal prosecutors wrote that if Cannon does not grant a stay by September 15, they will appeal the judge’s decision to a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
The FBI seized the documents and other items as part of an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified government records after he left the White House.
Under the Presidential Records Act, Trump was required to turn over all documents from his presidency to the National Archives.
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.”
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