DOJ Asks Court to Halt Trump Special Master in FBI Mar-a-Lago Case

DOJ Asks Court to Halt Trump Special Master in FBI Mar-a-Lago Case
Former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 31, 2022. (The Epoch Times)
Jack Phillips

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal with a federal court to halt the use of a special master to review documents that were taken by FBI agents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August.

The DOJ claimed that federal U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to appoint a special master was erroneous, alleging the decision is interfering with their investigation. Government lawyers then asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate Cannon’s order, which was handed down in September.

“District courts have no general equitable authority to superintend federal criminal investigations,” the DOJ said (pdf) in court papers submitted Friday. “Instead, challenges to the government’s use of the evidence recovered in a search are resolved through ordinary criminal motions practice if and when charges are filed. Here, however, the district court granted the extraordinary relief Plaintiff sought.”

Raymond Dearie, a New York-based judge, was assigned last month to inspect the thousands of records taken in the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and weed out from the investigation any that may be protected by claims of legal privilege. The 11th Circuit last month lifted a temporary bar on the department’s ability to use the seized classified documents as part of its criminal probe.

If the review is allowed to continue, he has until Dec. 16 to complete the review of the documents under Cannon’s order.

Meanwhile, DOJ lawyers returned to the court Friday to ask for the entire special master review to be shut down, saying the judge who made the appointment had no basis for doing so and Trump was not entitled to an independent review of the seized records or to claim privilege over them.

They wrote that Cannon issued “an unprecedented order ... restricting an ongoing criminal investigation by prohibiting the Executive Branch from reviewing and using evidence” that was taken during the FBI search.

A day before, the Supreme Court refused a request from Trump to ask the high court to intervene in the special master dispute.

The DOJ argued to the Supreme Court that the 11th Circuit court found Cannon caused “a serious and unwarranted intrusion on the Executive Branch’s authority to control the use and distribution of extraordinarily sensitive government records.”

Federal officials said in court they are investigating whether Trump broke the law by taking presidential records, including about 100 allegedly classified documents, to his Florida estate after he left the White House last year. Trump has repeatedly said that he declassified those materials while he was president and argued the DOJ has been weaponized by Democrats to target their political opponents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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