UNITED STATES: To obtain documents with classification marks that were taken from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, the US justice department has asked a federal judge to grant it access once more. The government has threatened to take the matter to a higher court if this request is denied.
The demands were included in a three-page notice of appeal that the justice department submitted on Thursday in the case regarding the former President’s request for a “special master.” This opens the door for the government to submit a thorough appeals brief to the US court of appeals for the 11th circuit.
In a plea for a stay, the justice department said that if the order for a special master to evaluate classified files that ended the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government secrets were upheld, it would not appeal the decision.
The briefs amounted to a persuasive yet astute reaction to the judge’s unusually deferential handling of Trump due to his position as a former president.
In its motion to stay the order prohibiting it from reviewing the seized materials, the justice department concentrated on the classified documents, arguing that Trump did not have “possessory interest” in the records – the crucial legal standard at issue – and that they were themselves the focus of the investigation.
The government contended that Trump could not claim a “possessory interest” in any classified materials that belonged to the state, even if he tried to use the executive privilege defence to remove them from the evidence cache.
The decision essentially put the justice department in a catch-22 situation: either accept a delay in the inquiry or decide not to appeal, knowing that a defeat would set a new precedent for a potentially risky interpretation of post-presidential power.
The 11th circuit in Atlanta has six judges who Trump chose, most of whom are conservative. The justice department concluded that the precedent set by appellate courts regarding fourth amendment motions, such as the one Trump submitted, cut against the former president.