Trump's request for a special master to review documents from Mar-a-Lago is granted by the judge

Trump's request

Additionally, the decision effectively prohibited federal prosecutors from relying on significant pieces of evidence as they look into whether Mr. Trump improperly stored national defense documents at his home. In the investigation into how former President Donald J. Trump handled confidential government information, a federal judge stepped in on Monday and ordered the appointment of an impartial arbiter to examine a wealth of documents that were taken last month from Mr. Trump's Florida home and private club.

The Justice Department was also temporarily prohibited from using the seized materials for any "investigative purpose" associated with its investigation into Mr. Trump by the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, until the work of the arbitrator, known as a special master, was finished.

The injunction would bar federal prosecutors from using crucial pieces of evidence as they look into whether the former president improperly stored national defense papers at his estate, Mar-a-Lago, or resisted the government's repeated attempts to recover them. At least temporarily.

Although the decision may eventually accomplish nothing more than postpone the criminal investigation into Mr. Trump, the openness and breadth of Judge Cannon's language and reasoning suggested that there were deeper issues at play. The Justice Department's apparent argument that Mr. Trump should be treated like any other investigative subject was rejected by the judge's decision, which appeared to carve out a special exception to the standard legal process for the former president.

In fact, Judge Cannon stated in her order, which was delivered on the holiday of Labor Day, that she had made her choices "to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances," but that her ruling would not affect a separate investigation of the documents by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is examining the possibility that moving the documents to Mar-a-Lago posed a risk to national security.

The possibility of an appeal had been discussed by Justice Department officials last week, should the judge rule in Mr. Trump's favor. However, on Monday, when asked how the department would react, spokesman Anthony Coley declined to comment.

In the current litigation, he added, "The United States is reviewing the opinion and will consider appropriate future steps."

The special master was given extensive latitude by Judge Cannon's decision to examine the more than 11,000 documents that the F.B.I. carried out of Mar-a-Lago on August 8—some of which had markings designating them as highly confidential. It gave the person in charge the opportunity to assess the documents for potential executive privilege protection in addition to attorney-client privilege, which is a fairly usual safeguard for private internal executive branch discussions.

Updates on the Trump Documents Investigation

A judge granted former president Donald J. Trump's request for an impartial arbitrator to examine the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. Special Master, The decision can result in appeals and prolong the investigation.

48 empty folders identified as carrying sensitive information were discovered by the F.B.I. at Mr. Trump's Florida home, raising concerns about whether all of the items had been collected.

Unintended Consequences: By asking for a special master, Mr. Trump unintentionally gave the Justice Department the option to retaliate by presenting evidence of alleged obstruction of justice in a revealing court document.

Two of Mr. Trump's attorneys are under scrutiny and could end up as witnesses or targets in the inquiry as a result of new information about how they handled a subpoena for additional classified information.

The National Archives, which protects presidential records, informed Mr. Trump's lawyers in a letter in May that the Justice Department and the Biden White House did not think the former president's executive privilege claims had any merit after trying for months to recover the documents from Mr. Trump.

The archives stated, "The question, in this case, is not a close one."

The Justice Agency claimed at a hearing last week that permitting a special master to analyze the seized documents under presidential privilege would be "unprecedented" and without legal foundation, because the department is a component of the current executive branch and Mr. Trump is no longer in office.

According to Julie Edelstein, a representative for the department, during the hearing, "there is no function for a special master to play in executive privilege."

Although Judge Cannon, a Mr. Trump appointee, said in the ruling that she was "not convinced" of the government's categorical argument that presidential privilege did not apply in this situation, it was evident that she disagreed with the Justice Department's position. The department's position, she continued, "certainly overstates the law," and it makes sense to set aside any records that might be protected by executive privilege while the case's legal challenges are resolved.

"Even if any assertion of executive privilege by plaintiff ultimately fails in this context," she wrote, "that possibility, even if plausible, does not preclude a former president's capacity to invoke the privilege as an initial issue."

Judge Cannon expressed concern in her ruling that Mr. Trump may experience "reputational harm" from an improper search or, as she emphasized, from "a future indictment" that was based even partially on "property that ought to be returned."

She stated that Mr. Trump ought to be investigated with special care and respect, putting him in a separate category.

Judge Cannon stated that because of the plaintiff's previous role as president of the United States, "the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own." She added that Mr. Trump feared "unquantifiable potential harm by way of incorrect exposure of sensitive material to the public" as a result of the search of Mar-a-Lago.

Such claims ran counter to the Justice Department's frequent claims that it would investigate Mr. Trump by the law and the facts, just as it would if it were looking into any other person.

Even though her decision specifically prohibited the Justice Department from using the cache of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in its investigation of Mr. Trump, for the time being, it was unclear how it would affect alternative strategies prosecutors might use to further the investigation. Prosecutors stated that the documents inquiry remained an "active criminal investigation" on Friday in a court filing that was made public along with a detailed inventory of the items seized during the search. They added that these "further investigative steps" may include "additional witness interviews and grand jury practice."

However, the decision, which would necessitate several laborious steps, will undoubtedly drag down the probe. The position of the special master must first be filled by a person chosen by Judge Cannon. Then, that individual will have to examine a sizable collection of papers to determine which are covered by the executive or attorney-client privilege.

Judge Cannon instructed the Justice Department and Mr. Trump's attorneys to provide her a list of potential special master candidates and proposals for the position's authority by Friday.

Even then, additional legal action might be taken. The privileged things must be identified, according to Mr. Trump's attorneys, in part as a prelude to a wider legal challenge to the search under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits arbitrary searches and seizures.

Judge Cannon provided some fresh information regarding the search itself in the ruling. She mentioned, for instance, that the F.B.I. agents discovered some of Mr. Trump's "medical certificates, communications relating to taxes, and accounting information" among the official materials they had acquired. The search warrant for Mar-a- Lago gave the F.B.I. permission to remove any boxes containing official documents, even if more private stuff were found inside.

Judge Cannon pointed out that a so-called filter team of federal agents who were walled off from the team looking into Mr. Trump had actually located and set aside Mr. Trump's personal items. Nevertheless, she raised questions about the filter team's work in her ruling, stating without going into detail that in two instances, materials that should have been marked as privileged wound up in the hands of prosecutors.

Judge Cannon said that she was ill-equipped to go through more than 10,000 pages of records to decide what should and shouldn't be included in the government's inquiry because of the sheer volume of information taken from Mar-a-Lago.

A special master would be more qualified than this court to carry out the review, according to Judge Cannon's ruling, "considering the volume of confiscated materials and the parties' indicated desire for prompt resolution of this matter."

Post a Comment

Post a Comment