- The DOJ asked a federal appeals court to reverse a ruling appoint a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case.
- Prosecutors said a lower court judge “erred in requiring the government to submit” to a special master review of seized records.
- “The court should now reverse the order in its entirety for multiple independent reasons,” prosecutors said.
The Justice Department on Friday asked a federal appeals court to dismiss a lower court ruling appointing a special master to review records seized from Mar-a-Lago.
A special master is an outside arbiter tasked with sifting through seized materials and filtering out those that may be covered by executive or attorney-client privilege.
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team requested the appointment of a special master after the FBI executed a search warrant at his South Florida home. US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee confirmed to the federal bench in 2020, granted the former president’s request last month.
But the DOJ quickly appealed the ruling and asked the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to issue a partial stay and allow the government to access roughly 100 classified records that had been seized from Mar-a-Lago — a request the appeals court granted.
“This court has already granted the government’s motion to stay that unprecedented order insofar as it relates to the documents bearing classification markings,” the DOJ said in its Friday court filing. “The court should now reverse the order in its entirety for multiple independent reasons.”
Lawyers for the government went on to reiterate their argument that Trump cannot legitimately claim executive privilege over the records seized from Mar-a-Lago, or claim they were his “personal” records because they’re government documents and are therefore the property of the United States.
Prosecutors also noted that Trump is “not entitled to the return of evidence solely on the ground that the evidence belonged to him when it was seized.”
“If that were the case, evidence rooms nationwide would soon be emptied,” the filing said. It added that by the time a district judge granted Trump’s request for a special master in September, a government filter team had already reviewed the seized materials and sifted out records that may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
And because Trump “did not demonstrate that the standard filter-team process is inadequate to protect his privileged attorney-client communications in the remaining materials, special-master review is unwarranted on that score as well,” the filing said.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.