The Department of Justice said it it intends to appeal a Florida judge’s order to appoint a special master to review materials seized by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.
The DOJ asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida to issue a partial stay of her ruling that prevents them from accessing the classified materials that were seized during the search of Trump’s home.
“Those aspects of the order will cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public,” the DOJ said. “The classified records — a discreet set of just over — 100 documents have already been segregated from the other seized records and are being maintained separately.”
If Judge Cannon does not issue a partial stay by Sept. 15, the DOJ said it plans to appeal her decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
In January, the National Archives said that the agency recovered 184 classified documents from Mar-A-Lago. Trump then returned more documents to the FBI in May, but when he did not return all of them, the agency raided his Florida home in August.
On Friday, Cannon released a detailed list of what was seized from a storage room and in Trump’s office. They include classified documents with unmarked government records, photographs and even articles of clothing co-mingled.
Forty-eight empty folders were marked “classified” and 42 other empty ones labeled to “return to staff secretary/military aide.”
However, on Monday, Cannon, who was appointed by Trump after the 2020 elections, granted ex-president’s request to appoint a special master to review all the materials that were seized.
Her ruling that Trump’s claim that the documents were subject to executive privilege had merit, was highly criticized by legal experts.
“There’s just never been a case where irreparable harm has been shown by being under criminal investigation,” Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN.
“That’s one of the key things that the Justice Department does, the executive branch does, is criminally investigate people. So, the notion that that can establish irreparable harm to me still says that this is a legally wrong decision.”
In its filing Thursday, the DOJ said that Trump did not and could not assert any executive privilege over the documents.
“And although this court suggested that Plaintiff might be able to assert executive privilege as to some of the seized records, Supreme Court precedent makes clear that any possible assertion of privilege that Plaintiff might attempt to make over the classified records would be overcome by the government’s “demonstrated, specific need” for that evidence,” the DOJ said.
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