After being beaten twice in court by Donald Trump’s legal team the US Justice Department is appealing a ruling that bans it from reviewing classified materials seized by an armed FBI search team at the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
In the filing before the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Justice Department said the court should halt part of the lower court decision that prevents prosecutors from relying on the classified documents in their criminal investigation into the retention of government records at Trump’s Florida residence after his presidency ended.
The department also asked that a third party appointed to examine all the records taken in the federal raid, Senior US Judge Raymond Dearie, not be permitted to review the classified materials.
The government asked the appeals court to rule on the request “as soon as practicable”.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday rejected the same requests from the Justice Department.
There were roughly 100 classified documents among the 11,000 records gathered in the FBI’s court-approved August 8 search at the former president’s resort.
Cannon, whom Trump appointed to the bench in 2020, had said she would tell Dearie – who is filling the role of a ‘special master’ in the case – to prioritise the classified records in his review, for which she has set a November 30 deadline.
If Cannon’s ruling stands, experts said, it would likely stall the Justice Department investigation involving the government records.
The department is also looking into possible obstruction of the probe after it found apparent evidence records may have been removed or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to Mar-a-Lago in June to try to recover all classified documents through a grand jury subpoena.
The Justice Department must now convince the Atlanta-based appeals court, with a conservative majority, to take its side in litigation over the records probe. Trump appointees make up six of the 11 active judges on the 11th Circuit.