U.S. judge backs Trump in classified records probe, refuses Justice Department request

A US judge on Thursday refused to allow the Justice Department to immediately resume its review of top-secret files the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida estate in an ongoing criminal investigation. out, siding with the former president.

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon also granted the newly named special owner, Raymond Dearie, access to the entire chain of documents seized from the property, although the department has said that arbitrators are not authorized to examine the batch of records. profile has been classified.

The Justice Department has promised to take the case to an appeals court if Cannon rules against their request. They also managed to block the independent arbitrator, Dearie, from examining about 100 classified documents that were among 11,000 records collected during a court-approved search on August 8, including some that were assessed. marked “top secret”.

“The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in a expeditious and orderly manner.” , Cannon wrote Thursday.

A Justice Department spokesperson and Trump’s attorneys did not immediately return requests for comment.

Justice Department has ordered a halt to the Trump investigation

The selection of Dearie, a former federal prosecutor who for many years served as chief justice of a federal court based in Brooklyn, NY, came after both the Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys spoke. It was clear that they would be pleased with his appointment as such- so-called special master.

VIEW | Judge allows Trump to request expert review of seized documents:

Judge allows Trump to ask experts to review seized documents

A federal judge has asked former US president Donald Trump to request a special expert to review documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home.

In that role, Dearie will be responsible for reviewing documents obtained during the search for Mar-a-Lago and segregation of any documents that may be mentioned in privilege requests. It’s unclear how long the work will take, but the extraordinary overall process has delayed the investigation, with Cannon directing the Justice Department to temporarily halt core aspects of the investigation.

The Justice Department argued that Dearie’s appointment was unnecessary, saying it had done its own review and that Trump was not authorized to make statements about executive privilege that would normally allow the president to withhold certain information. to the public and Congress.

Cannon, a Trump appointee, said on Thursday she would instruct Dearie to prioritize reviewing pre-classified records. She also instructed him to complete a review of all seized documents by November 30.

The Justice Department is investigating the hoarding of top-secret and other classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., after he left office in January 2021.

The department is also considering the possibility of obstructing the investigation after it found evidence that the records may have been deleted or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to Mar-a-Lago in June to try attempt to recover all classified documents through a grand jury subpoena. .

This image, which was filed in a Justice Department court filing on Aug. 30 and partially obscured by the source, shows a photograph of documents seized by the FBI during a search of Florida property. on the 8th of August by the FBI. (DoJ via Associated Press)

Investigations are ongoing

Cannon, a Trump appointee, disagreed and directed both sides to name potential candidates for the role. She also ordered the Justice Department to suspend its review of the documents for investigative purposes until “further orders from the Court” or until the special superintendent completes their review. .

Trump’s team recommended Dearie or a Florida attorney for the job. The Justice Department said that, in addition to the two retired judges whose names it has filed, it would also be pleased with an appointment with Dearie.

Donald Trump, then US president, speaks during the Medal of Honor Ceremony in the East Room of the White House in 2019. (Alex Brandon / The Associated Press)

Dearie served as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York from 1982 to 1986, at which point he was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan. He has also served at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which allows the Justice Department to use wiretaps in investigations involving suspected spies of a foreign power.

He took up the senior position in 2011, but the Justice Department said he remains active and has indicated to officials that he is ready for the position and could work quickly if appointed to the position. that mind.

The document investigation is among a number of federal and state investigations that Trump is facing as he considers another presidential run in 2024.

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