Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are staying aggressive in their fight against the Justice Department for their seizure of materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
On Monday, they petitioned a judge to continue blocking the DOJ from reviewing classified documents seized in that raid.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon last week temporarily blocked the Department of Justice from using the records seized on August 8 when the FBI entered Trump’s home. They are blocked until a special master is appointed to review the documents. The DOJ challenged her ruling on this matter later in the week.
Trump’s lawyers issued a court filing on Monday that called the DOJ’s investigation into the former president “unprecedented and misguided.” They wrote in the filing that “there still remains a disagreement as to the classification status of the documents” that had classified markings.
The former president has declared that while he was president, he declassified various documents, although his lawyers did not specifically reference this.
The government is alleging that hundreds of pages of classified records were being held at Mar-a-Lago even though Trump’s legal team had certified in June that there were no more classified records at the estate.
Judge Cannon granted the request for a special master on September 5 and blocked the DOJ from using the classified files as a part of their
Cannon said that a national security review of the records could keep going, but the Justice Department explained that it was complicated because the FBI is connected to the intelligence community and “classification review and assessment are closely interconnected with — and cannot be readily separated from — areas of inquiry of DOJ’s and the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation.”
Some experts in the law have said that the judge’s ruling is flawed. They agreed with the Justice Department’s argument that banning the executive branch from examining classified records that belong to the executive branch might inflict “immediate and serious harms to the government and the public.”
The DOJ has made it clear that it will appeal Judge Cannon’s ruling on this matter, and they have asked her to stay a portion of her ruling regarding the classified documents. They want to move forward with their plans for the classified records even before a special master gets involved.
Trump’s legal team believes that this would “presuppose the outcome, at least as regards to what it deems are ‘classified records.’” They wrote in their new filing that there was no indication that any purported classified records were ever disclosed to anyone.
The filing also said that under the Presidential Records Act, the former president “has an unfettered right of access to his Presidential records even though he may not ‘own’ them.”
Trump’s legal team believes that the former president’s holding of some 11,000 pages of documents is a civil matter that is governed by the records act. They said that the government was trying to block a “reasonable first step” that would have restored order in the midst of chaos and also increased public confidence in the integrity of the legal process.
Christopher Kise is the lawyer that signed the filing for Trump’s legal team. He wrote, “As this Court correctly observed, a criminal investigation of this import—an investigation of a former President of the United States by the administration of his political rival—requires enhanced vigilance to ensure fairness, transparency, and maintenance of the public trust.”
Kise also wrote that given the vast significance of this investigation, the court, along with President Trump, believe it must be conducted in public view.
The Trump team and the Department of Justice have suggested a person for the role of a special master, but they both have not agreed on either candidate.
The saga continues, and we are watching how Judge Cannon will deal with this new filing from the Trump team.