Justice Department Appeals Decision by Federal Judge to Grant Special Master Request
Hindered in its investigation into Trump's possession of classified documents and amid the intelligence community's ongoing damage assessment, the DOJ appeals judge Cannon's decision to appoint a special master to examine the seized documents.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to restore their access to classified material seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, saying their ongoing criminal probe needs to determine if there are sensitive government papers that have not been found yet, and signaling that they plan to appeal the issue to a higher court in the interest of national security, reports the Washington Post.
Excerpt from the Washington Post: Justice Department lawyers told U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon that if she does not grant them their requested stay by Sept. 15, they would file their appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. Cannon on Monday approved a request from Trump to have a special master examine the seized documents, telling prosecutors they cannot use the material until it is reviewed. Her decision slowed — at least temporarily — a high-profile criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information held at the former president’s Florida home and club, as well as the possible hiding, tampering or destruction of government records.
In a related story, reported exclusively by the Washington Post, a document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property
Excerpt from the Washington Post: Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search. Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location. But such documents were stored at Mar-a-Lago, with uncertain security, more than 18 months after Trump left the White House.
According to the New York Times, prosecutors asked Judge Cannon to allow investigators to continue to use "classified records — a discrete set of just over 100 documents" and to withhold them from the special master. In an order on Thursday evening, Judge Cannon directed Mr. Trump’s lawyers to respond to the government’s filing by Monday.
Excerpt from the New York Times: The department, in forceful and foreboding language, argued that determining the national security implications of Mr. Trump’s retention of the documents was so intertwined with its criminal investigation that carrying out a separate risk assessment was impossible under the conditions imposed by the court. Justice Department lawyers complained that the judge’s order was impeding efforts to determine whether there may yet be "additional classified records that are not being properly stored" and noted that the search had recovered empty folders marked as classified whose contents "may have been lost or compromised." In an affidavit accompanying the filing, Alan E. Kohler Jr., the assistant director of the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence division, wrote that the intelligence community’s assessment of the classified material was "inextricably linked with the criminal investigation."