The Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to deny former President Donald Trump’s request to intervene in the dispute over classified documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August.
The Justice Department called the records “extraordinarily sensitive” and said the Supreme Court should let a federal appeals court order blocking the special master’s access to those records pending legal challenges take place.
“As this court has emphasized, courts should exercise caution before insisting on an examination of records, the disclosure of which would jeopardize national security, ‘even by the judge alone, in chambers,'” the DOJ wrote, citing a previous case .
Trump’s lawyers want the special foreman in charge of the case to review the more than 100 documents marked secret — which, if allowed, could open the door for Trump’s team to review the records and argue that they’re off-limits for prosecutors in a criminal case should.
The entire court could deal with the matter within days. It would take five judges to agree to grant Trump’s request.
The Justice Department’s main argument is that the Court of Appeals was right and that Trump’s legal team was wrong in arguing that the Supreme Court should consider the matter.
“In fact, the only thing the plaintiff could do in this case is determine that it is a ‘difficult’ question,” US Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the filing filed Tuesday.
It concerns two orders issued by US District Judge Aileen Cannon last month. She has commissioned a special foreman to check confiscated materials – including those with secret markings. Previously, Cannon temporarily barred the Justice Department from using the subset of documents as part of its ongoing criminal investigation.
That’s why Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon’s decisions are being put to the test
However, a panel of judges from the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, at the request of the Justice Department, agreed to freeze portions of those orders while the litigation proceeds.
Trump has argued that as a former president, he may have had rights to possess certain government documents, including documents that may contain the country’s most sensitive secrets.
“The Eleventh Circuit had no jurisdiction to review, let alone stay, a district court restraining order requiring the Special Master to review materials seized from President Trump’s home,” Trump told the Supreme Court last week.
Raymond Dearie, the senior US judge-appointed Special Master, will be “materially impacted” by the appeals court’s order and “slow ongoing time-sensitive work,” Trump’s team added.
“Any restriction on the full and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid on a President’s home undermines public confidence in our system,” the filing reads.
US Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar said Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, was “fundamentally wrong” in appointing a special master, noting that the Justice Department is appealing that decision in lower courts.
The DOJ also noted in its filing that the Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that Cannon “abused its discretion” and inflicted “a serious and unwarranted interference with the executive branch’s powers to control the use and dissemination of exceptionally sensitive government records.” have. ”
Cannon’s decision to block the DOJ’s access to documents classified as classified and seized from Mar-a-Lago slowed the DOJ’s ability to work on the case and gave Trump a runway to defend his case to sharpen.
The DOJ said that Trump’s request to the Supreme Court “regards an unprecedented district court order restricting the executive branch’s use of its own top-secret records in ongoing criminal investigations and ordering the dissemination of those records outside of the executive branch for a special investigator’s review.”
Trump’s appeal puts the court back at the center of a dispute with the former president, who nominated three of the current judges: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. But Trump lost an earlier challenge in a case involving documents related to the Jan. 6 House Select Committee, with only Justice Clarence Thomas publicly stating that he had ruled in Trump’s favor.
“Even in the unlikely event that the court does side with Trump this time, it just means that Judge Dearie can see more of the seized files,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas law school. “It would not affect what the Justice Department does with these materials.”
Among the criteria the court will consider is whether there is a “reasonable prospect” that a majority of the court would find the decision below wrong and whether the refusal to stay has caused “irreparable harm” would result.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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