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Justice Department asks appeals court to block Trump judge’s Mar-a-Lago ruling

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department asks a federal appeals court to temporarily block the ruling of a Trump-appointed judge, barring it from using thousands of pages of government documents seized from the former president’s home in Mar-a-Lago, including hundreds of pages of classified documents. defeated.

The Justice Department previously argued that any delay in the investigation into Donald Trump’s handling and custody of government documents, including classified documents, could result in “irreparable harm” to the government and the public.

On Thursday evening, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon denied her request to allow the FBI to continue using the hundreds of pages of classified documents seized Aug. 8 in Mar-a-Lago. At the same time, she appointed senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie. as a special master, and — in an unprecedented move — gave him the power to make decisions on issues of executive privilege following a request from Trump’s team.

Dearie issued an injunction Friday to summon the parties to the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, where he is located, for a preparatory conference Tuesday.

Cannon previously blocked the government from using the seized documents from Mar-a-Lago for “research purposes.” The government had asked it to lift its restrictions on some of the documents — the hundreds of pages of classification markings — because, the Justice Department argued, they are “government property over which the executive branch has control and over which Plaintiff has no identifiable ownership interest.” More broadly, the ministry argued that a special captain is “unnecessary and would significantly harm important government interests, including national security interests”.

Dearie was one of two special master’s candidates proposed by Trump, and the only Trump suggestion the Justice Department deemed acceptable. Trump’s team rejected both candidates from the department but declined to say publicly why they opposed those two former judges.

The Justice Department said last week, ahead of Cannon’s order to appoint the special captain Thursday night, that it would broadly appeal the judge’s ruling.

The Justice Department’s investigation grew out of a lengthy back-and-forth with the National Archives and Records Administration over boxes of government documents Trump kept after he left office, even though the documents would be turned over, under the Presidential Records Act. . The National Archives turned to the FBI after it found hundreds of pages of classified government documents mixed with some of the records Trump sent back in January.

In response to a grand jury subpoena in May, Trump’s team handed over some additional classified documents and certified in a signed document in June that a “diligent search” turned up no further classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. But there were more.

Given the implications the search could have for the Department of Justice, the FBI and the country, Attorney General Merrick Garland “personally approved” the decision to execute the search warrant, which was based on a finding of probable cause. that there would be classified as national defense. information and presidential files on the ground.

That is indeed what the Department of Justice claims to have found. According to a detailed property list, more than 11,000 government documents were seized, as well as more than a hundred classified documents spanning hundreds of pages.

The judge who signed the search reiterated after it was completed that “evidence of multiple federal crimes would likely be found” at Mar-a-Lago, and stood by his decision. The FBI was authorized to seize “evidence of knowingly altering, destroying, or concealing governmental and/or presidential records, or documents with classification markings,” and the Justice Department said the records in the months leading up to the quest.

The Mar-a-Lago investigation is still in its early stages, and former Justice Department officials agree that deciding whether to charge a former president is an incredibly large and complex decision. Trump is also at the center of a large-scale investigation into the January 6 riots in the US Capitol and attempts to block the peaceful transfer of power.

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