Florida federal judge did not immediately rule on the request of former President Donald Trump to be a “special master” in order to review documents that were taken from Trump’s house last month by FBI agents for executive privilege.
After a 1:05 p.m. ET hearing, Judge Aileen M. Cannon said she would issue a written ruling on Trump’s request. ET hearing Judge Aileen M.Cannon stated that she would issue a written decision on Trump’s request. The Department of Justice has opposed it.
This hearing is the latest chapter of the ongoing battle over the Justice Department’s closely monitored investigation into Trump’s illegal possession of classified national security material at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Florida. As part of the investigation, the FBI raided Trump’s property.
Jim Trusty, Trump’s lawyer, blasted the DOJ during the hearing for “grabbing at everything” and threatening to sue Trump. He stated that the FBI could have “taken a overdue library books” and it would have been “suddenly transformed into a criminal investigation.” He also expressed concern about the institution of presidency itself following the unprecedented raid.
Jay Bratt from the DOJ, however, claimed that Trump does not have the same legal privileges as when he was elected to office regarding classified documents.
The Justice Department lawyers also claimed that a special master was not necessary and stated it would slow down the investigation into Trump.
Canon was, however, skeptical at times of the arguments made by the government.
She also suggested that the director of national Intelligence review the documents continue, while the criminal investigation is halted for a while, and that a special master review all the materials.
During the hearing, Trump’s team as well as the DOJ disagreed about the gravity of national security information being stored at Mar-a-Lago.
Julie Edelstein, DOJ prosecutor, stated that “Some of these records included the most classified records in America.” “There was no authorized place on that property [Mar-a-Lago] for these records.”
Trump’s lawyers took a moment to address the photo of several folders of classified documents scattered on a floor, which was included in a government brief Wednesday. Trusty stated that it was “perfectly staged” as a press release in their motion.
Cannon announced last Saturday her “preliminary intention” to appoint an additional master in an order. She allowed both sides to present briefs this week, and scheduled Thursday’s hearing to discuss the matter.
If Cannon decides to appoint a special master, it’s unlikely that one would immediately begin sorting through documents. Lawyers from the Justice Department and Trump’s staff discussed in briefings this week the possibility of submitting a joint list with potential candidates for special master next week. A Top Secret/SCI security clearance should also be required for such a person, they said.
The government raided Trump’s home earlier this month to investigate a possible violation of federal laws. 18 USC 793 — gathering and transmitting defense information; 18 USC2071 — concealment of removal or mutilation; 18 USC1519 — destruction, alteration, or falsification records in federal investigations.