Former President Donald Trump
Erin Scott | Reuters
Donald Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to reject a Justice Department offer to resume its review of classified-marked documents that were seized from the former president’s Florida home last month as part of of a criminal investigation.
The filing with the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit came hours before lawyers for Trump and the DOJ appeared in federal court in Brooklyn to speak with the special master who was appointed to examine records seized at Mar-a-Lago. , the former president’s Palm Beach vacation home.
That independent third party, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, was selected last week by Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon to review the documents to identify personal records and information that may be protected by various legal privileges. The DOJ opposed the appointment of a special master, arguing in part that it was not necessary.
By authorizing the special master earlier this month, Cannon temporarily blocked the DOJ from reviewing or using the seized material for the investigation.
The DOJ appealed, asking the 11th Circuit to lift the portion of Cannon’s order prohibiting the use of government documents bearing classification marks and requiring the government to disclose such documents to the special master.
Cannon’s orders “are a sensible preliminary step toward restoring order from chaos, and therefore this Court should deny the government’s motion,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in a filing Tuesday in response to the DOJ request. .
The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on August 8, looking for documents showing violations of laws against obstruction of justice and suppression of official documents, as well as the US Espionage Act .
Federal agents seized more than 100 documents with classified marks during that raid, the DOJ later revealed. Court documents also revealed that the FBI found four dozen empty files marked “CLASSIFIED” during the raid. More than 10,000 US government documents and photographs without classification markings were also seized.
Trump and his allies have claimed in interviews and on social media that he has declassified all government documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s attorneys did not echo that assertion in Tuesday’s court filing. Instead, they argued that the DOJ failed to prove the documents were classified and claimed that a president “has absolute authority to declassify any information.”
In a footnote, Trump’s attorneys added, “The fact that the documents contain classification marks does not necessarily negate claims of privilege.” They pointed to the fact that, according to the probable cause affidavit used to obtain the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, some documents with classified marks also include Trump’s handwritten notes.
“These notes could certainly contain inside information,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.