October 3, 2022
Justice Department Says It’s OK With 1 of Trump’s Choices for Mar-a-Lago Arbiter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department said Monday it is ready to accept Donald Trump’s choice for an independent arbitrator to review documents seized during a trial. FBI search Last month at the former president’s Florida residence.

Accommodation can help expedite the selection process and reduce any delays caused by the appointment of a so-called Special Master. The judge in the case granted the Trump team’s request last week, saying she would appoint a neutral arbitrator to go through the records and remove anything that might be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege. .

The department’s lawyers said in a filing Monday night That, in addition to the two retired judges he previously recommended, he would also be satisfied with one of the Trump team selections—Raymond Deary, former chief justice of the federal court in the Eastern District of New York. He is currently on a senior active position, and the department said he had indicated he was available and could “work faster” if appointed.

It was not immediately clear whether US District Judge Eileen Cannon would name Dearie or someone else. The Trump team said earlier on Monday that it opposed both selections from the Justice Department.

Back and forth on the Special Master who came as Trump’s lawyer In a 21-page filing on Monday rejected Retention of top secret documents of former President as a “storage dispute” at Mar-a-Lago and urged Cannon to place a directive that temporarily halted key aspects of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation. The Trump team referred to the seized documents as “alleged ‘classified records’, saying the Justice Department had not proven that the material taken by the FBI during its August 8 search was classified or still remains.

The filing outlines significant factual and legal disagreements between Trump and US government lawyers as the Justice Department seeks to proceed with its criminal investigation into the retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago. Lawyers for the department in their own filings have rejected the idea that the documents, many of which are classified at a top-secret level, belonged to Trump or that Mar-a-Lago was a permissible place to store them.

“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” he wrote. “At its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, with the government wrongfully seeking to criminalize the possession by the 45th president of his own president and personal records.”

Cannon when investigation hit a roadblock last week Trump accepted the team’s request for a particular master and has prohibited the department from scrutinizing documents for investigative purposes, for now.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to lift that injunction and said it would challenge his decision in a federal appeals court. The department said its investigation was at risk of damage beyond repair if the order remained in place, noting that confusion about its scope had already prompted the intelligence community to withhold a separate risk assessment. did.

But Trump’s lawyer Said in his own proposal on Monday That Canon should not allow the FBI to resume reviewing classified records. It said the government has unilaterally set out to classify records, but has yet to prove that they are so.

“While opposing any neutral review of the confiscated materials, the government seeks to withhold an appropriate first step towards restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence in the integrity of the process,” the lawyers wrote.

Friday night both sides They proposed various names of candidates who could serve as Special Master, although they disagreed on the scope of duties that the individual should have. Canon has said that the yet-to-be-designated arbitrator will be tasked with reviewing the documents and isolating any individuals who may be covered by claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department recommends Barbara Jones, a retired judge in Manhattan who has previously served as special master in high-profile investigations, or Thomas Griffith, a retired federal appeals court jurist in the District of Columbia, who was benched by the former president. was appointed in. George W Bush. The department, in its proposal, said that the Special Master should not have access to classified documents, or have authority to consider claims of executive privilege.

On Monday, the Trump team told the judge that it was objecting to both of those candidates, but was unwilling to say why publicly at the moment.

Trump’s lawyers on the active situation in federal court in Brooklyn proposed to a senior judge, Dearie, who had also previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or to Florida attorney Paul Huck Jr., said the arbitrator had access to the full installment. Must have access. Must be able to document and evaluate executive privilege claims.

The Justice Department said it was prepared to support Diary’s selection, but opposed Haque’s selection because of what he said was a lack of relevant experience.

In its filing on Monday, the Trump team again voiced a broader view of presidential power, saying the president has an “absolute right of access” to his presidential records and “bureaucratic components of the executive.” have the absolute right to declassify any information without the approval of the branch” – although it did not say, as Trump has maintained, that he actually declassified them.

The Justice Department has said that Trump has no authority to withhold presidential documents. And the Criminal Law Department has used as the basis for its investigation, which involves criminalizing the intentional retention of national defense information, not requiring records to be classified.

In any event, the Justice Department says a search last month found more than 100 documents bearing classification markings.

Trump, who frequently spends time at his various properties, was at his Virginia golf club on Monday.

Associated Press writer Meg Kinard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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