Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday filed a motion objecting to special master candidates proposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review documents taken by FBI agents from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s attorneys, in a three-page filing (pdf), asked “for permission to specifically express our objections to the Government’s nominees only at such time that the Court specifies a desire to obtain and consider that information.”
“There are specific reasons why those nominees are not preferred for service as Special Master in this case,” the lawyers stated, saying that it will not provide a reason for why they oppose the DOJ’s special master candidates.
The reason why, the filing added, is because “it is more respectful to the candidates” to not include their reasons “from a public, and likely to be widely circulated, pleading.”
“As the Court’s Order required a list of proposed Special Master candidates but did not specify whether that is to include specific advocacy as to why certain nominees are or are not suitable to serve as Special Master, Plaintiff has construed that Order in a limited fashion,” the filing stated.
If the court demands it, Trump’s team would be “willing to provide our specific rationale for supporting our nominees if and when the Court so orders,” the filing added.
Special Master Picks
The DOJ named retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith as potential candidates for the special master role. Griffith served as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, and Jones is a former federal prosecutor who served as a special master in other recent high-profile matters.
As for Trump, his team suggested Paul Huck Jr., a contributor to the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society, and retired Judge Raymond Dearie, who served as a federal judge in New York since 1986.
The DOJ has not yet issued a response to Trump’s proposed candidates and also hasn’t issued a rebuttal to the latest motion that was filed Monday.
Earlier, Trump’s attorneys urged a federal judge to reject the Justice Department’s bid to continue to review documents as part of its investigation.
Last week, Judge Aileen Cannon sided with Trump and ordered a special master to review the documents. At the same time, she partially blocked the DOJ from reviewing the seized documents, although she wrote that the 17-agency Intelligence Community assessment of the materials could continue.
“In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records,” Trump’s team wrote in that filing (pdf).
What’s more, the lawyers argued that Mar-a-Lago is a secure location—staffed by U.S. Secret Service members—suitable for storing the documents.
The sprawling Florida resort was “utilized regularly to conduct the official business of the United States during the Trump Presidency, which to this day is monitored by the United States Secret Service,” they wrote Monday.
When FBI agents arrived in August, they took 11 sets of allegedly classified documents, including some that were marked “top secret,” according to government-submitted court documents. They also found empty folders that had classified markings.