The Justice Department is asking a court to lift an order banning the classified documents seized from the ex-president’s Florida home.
The US Department of Justice has asked a federal appeals court to resume its examination of classified materials seized in an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.
In its filing before the U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday, the Justice Department said it should overturn an earlier ruling that prevents prosecutors from relying on classified documents in their criminal investigations.
The department also requested that a third party be appointed to investigate all data taken during the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach after his presidency ended.
Following the unprecedented search of the former president’s property last month, the Justice Department said it was investigating the illegal holding of government documents — some marked as highly classified, including “top secret” — and the obstruction of a federal investigation.
The Justice Department must now convince the Atlanta-based appeals court, which has a conservative majority, to side with its case investigation. Trump appointees make up six of the 11 active judges on the court.
The administration’s motion comes after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon rejected the same Justice Department requests on Thursday.
Cannon, who appointed Trump to the bench in 2020, said she would tell U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who plays the role of “special master” in the case, to prioritize the classified records in his review, which she wrote in. November placed. 30 deadline to complete.
There were about 100 classified documents among the 11,000 records collected during the FBI-approved Aug. 8 search of the former president’s home.
If Cannon’s ruling stands, experts said, it would likely delay the Justice Department’s investigation into those classified documents.
Delaying the review of the classified documents, which the ministry says are government property, “impedes the government’s efforts to protect the country’s security,” the Justice Department said.
Friday’s filing by the government at times went directly against Cannon’s previous decisions in the case.
Prosecutors said the judge cited court documents from Trump’s attorneys that suggested the former president could have released the documents marked as classified, but those legal documents did not allege that Trump did.
“The court erred in granting extraordinary relief based on unsubstantiated possibilities,” the government’s lawyers wrote.
The Justice Department also criticized Cannon’s direction of disclosing classified documents to Dearie and Trump’s attorneys as part of an outside review of all data taken during the search, describing the former president’s lawyers as possible witnesses. of “relevant events” in the criminal investigation.
The appeal is first heard by a panel of three judges, but may eventually reach the Supreme Court.
Trump faces mounting legal pressure with the Justice Department saying top secret documents were “probably hidden” to hinder an FBI investigation into his possible mishandling of classified material.
He has denied all wrongdoing, saying the raid on his mansion was “one of the most egregious attacks on democracy in our country’s history” while making it a major topic of conversation at his political rallies.