Federal prosecutors and attorneys for former President Donald Trump are due Friday to submit their respective choices for a neutral third party to peruse thousands of documents taken by FBI agents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month and determine whether they are covered by executive privilege, attorney-client privilege or other legal protections.
The Justice Department said it would submit its nominees for the position, known as a “special master,” despite filing an appeal of US District Judge Aileen Cannon’s Monday order agreeing to the 45th president’s request for the independent review — which temporarily halted the government’s main line of inquiry into whether Trump illegally mishandled classified information.
In court documents Thursday, South Florida US Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez and top DOJ counterintelligence official Jay Bratt asked Cannon to stay her order by Sept. 15 with regard to 105 classified papers taken from the Palm Beach, Fla., resort — and suggested that more of America’s secrets may still be there.
“The government has already reviewed the classified records, and the Court’s order contemplates that it may continue to do so for certain national security purposes,” Gonzalez and Bratt wrote. “A stay would simply allow the government to continue to review and use the same records—which, again, indisputably belong to the government, not Plaintiff—in its ongoing criminal investigation as well.”
Later in their filing, the prosecutors wrote that “the injunction against using classified records in the criminal investigation could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored—which itself presents the potential for ongoing risk to national security.”
Cannon ordered the Trump team to respond to the government’s appeal by 10 a.m. Monday. The government said it would turn to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals if its request for a stay was not granted.
More than 11,000 documents and photographs were seized by the FBI in the Aug. 8 raid, which came after months of back-and-forth between the former president and federal law enforcement over the status of documents that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago after he left office in January 2021.
In Cannon’s Monday order, she allowed US intelligence officials to keep reviewing the seized materials as part of an ongoing national security assessment.
However, prosecutors argued Thursday that review could not be separated from the criminal probe of the former president.
“[T]he review and assessment on their own are not sufficient to address and fully mitigate any national security risks presented,” Gonzalez and Bratt wrote, later adding: “Moreover, the government and the public are irreparably injured when a criminal investigation of matters involving risks to national security is enjoined.”
Trump himself responded to the appeal in a post on Truth Social on Thursday, accusing the DOJ of wasting “Millions of Dollars, & vast amounts of Time & Energy, to appeal the Order on the ‘Raid of Mar-a-Lago Document Hoax,’ by a brilliant and courageous Judge whose words of wisdom rang true throughout our Nation, instead of fighting the record setting corruption and crime that is taking place right before their very eyes.”
Meanwhile, multiple outlets reported Thursday that a federal grand jury is investigating the operations of Trump’s Save America PAC, which was formed after the former president’s loss to former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
“It should surprise no one that days after Biden declared Trump supporters a ‘threat’ to democracy, his admin goes after those very same supporters & Save America PAC, which is committed to Make America Great Again,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “Biden is using government to divide & destroy this nation.”