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Federal judge puts off ruling on Trump’s obtain a particular master but elects to unseal additional records linked to Mar-a-Lago search

Donald J. Trump, seen through a window, watches a television in the press office as newscasters talk about him moments after he was speaking with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (

Former President Donald Trump.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • A federal judge defer ruling on Trump’s obtain a particular master and said she needs additional time to take into account.

  • But she elected to unseal some additional records linked to the Mar-a-Lago search.

  • Judge Aileen Cannon said she’d unseal a status report concerning the DOJ’s investigation and a far more detailed inventory set of items the FBI seized.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fl. US District Judge Aileen Cannon heard arguments Thursday linked to former President Donald Trump’s request a special master be appointed to dig through and filter any materials seized in the Mar-a-Lago search that may be privileged.

Following the nearly two-hour hearing, Cannon said she’d not yet rule on Trump’s request and wished to take additional time to take into account national security and privilege issues raised by the Justice Department and the former president’s defense lawyers.

But she did rule to unseal a status report from the team investigating Trump’s handling of national security information, in addition to a more descriptive inventory set of items the FBI seized from its Mar-a-Lago search.

Cannon kept under seal a status report from the filter team in charge of sifting through materials seized from Mar-a-Lago after lawyers for both Trump and the federal government agreed that the document should remain out from the public view.

Chris Kise, who recently joined Trump’s defense team, had argued that the judge was in a “challenging” and “unique position” to “help restore public confidence” in the DOJ. He added that the “temperature is quite on top of both sides,” and gleam “significant insufficient trust between both parties.”

Kise also downplayed the legal and national security risks of Trump moving records from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, saying the documents were stored “at a spot that has been used frequently during his amount of time in office.”

James Trusty, another defense attorney on Trump’s team who previously served as a federal prosecutor, said it had been “extraordinary” for the federal government to rebel on the appointment of a particular master.

Trusty also referenced the DOJ’s argument that the appointment of a particular master would “significantly harm” the US’s national security interests given the sensitivity of the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

“What’s the harm they are concerned about?” he said. “What possibly could justify this type of vehement objection and rejection of Fourth Amendment law,” which pertains to the search and seizure of individuals’ property.

“I will suggest to the court that we are discussing today is an extremely modest step,” Trusty said, before Cannon interjected.

“To accomplish what, exactly?” the judge asked.

Trusty reiterated the obtain a particular master and pointed to attorney-client and executive privilege concerns.

He also accused the DOJ of grasping at whatever it might to prosecute Trump, saying the agency could have used an overdue library book to create off a criminal investigation if it might. He described the communications with the National Archives having been “ongoing” despite the fact that legal filings show Trump’s lawyers told investigators they’d paid all requested documents months prior to the FBI uncovering more.

Cannon didn’t press Trump’s lawyers to describe Trump’s declare that he’d declassified the documents uncovered through the search.

Once the government was up, Jay Bratt, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official, reiterated the DOJ’s position that Trump isn’t entitled to a particular master because he doesn’t have a “possessory interest” in the materials which were seized because they are the government’s records.

“He could be no more the president and because he could be no more the president he didn’t have the proper to take those documents,” Bratt said.

Julie Edelstein, a deputy chief in the DOJ’s counterintelligence division, doubled down on Bratt’s argument, saying the records seized from Mar-a-Lago “weren’t [Trump’s] at that time the search warrant was authorized and the search occurred and he doesn’t have a property fascination with those records.”

She also said it might be “unprecedented” for Trump, because the former president, “to be permitted to assert privilege contrary to the executive branch.”

Edelstein pointed aswell to the national security concerns linked to the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

Some materials FBI agents found were “many of the most highly classified” documents and “there is no place that has been authorized for the storage of these records” after Trump left office, Edelstein said.

She also noted that any office of the Director of National Intelligence happens to be spearheading overview of the intelligence and national security risks which could result from the disclosure of information within the Mar-a-Lago records.

But Cannon pushed back on the government’s arguments, pointing to the unprecedented nature of the FBI searching a former president’s home, and raising the chance of a particular master employed in conjunction with the DNI’s office.

She floated the chance that the DNI could continue its review but pause DOJ’s criminal investigation because the special master reviewed the documents.

Cannon also later pressed the former president’s counsel on why they wouldn’t wait to challenge the outcomes of the search in another proceeding considering that no charges have already been filed, to which Trusty responded they had the proper to challenge the “preliminary” search. Cannon pushed back, asking why Trump’s team then waited fourteen days to file their lawsuit.

“Section of that I don’t believe I could disclose,” Trusty said, adding they were “effectively exploring whether we were likely to have an even of cooperation that could allow us never to have to set you back the court for assistance.”

The Justice Department also revealed on Thursday a government filter team had determined after a short review that roughly 500 pages from the records seized from Mar-a-Lago could possibly be covered under attorney-client privilege but a secondary review may likely create a smaller group of documents being protected.

Prosecutors emphasized that the filter team took attorney-client privilege concerns “very seriously” and “applied an extremely broad and expansive criteria” to ensure the government didn’t access material that may be protected.

Any document that appeared legal or had an attorney’s name onto it was reserve, DOJ lawyer Benjamin Hawk said, adding that the filter team was “over-inclusive and erred privately of caution.” The original review discovered that 520 pages, a few of that have been copies, could possibly be potentially privileged, and he said those documents came only from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago along with the presidential office Trump had there.

Another team of attorneys then began reviewing those pages to be able to determine should they were “actually privileged in nature” because this type of broad group of criteria have been applied in the original review, Hawk said. However the department put a pause on the procedure to provide the court time and energy to think about the issue, he added.

The courtroom back-and-forth also delved into news overage of the investigation. Trusty bashed investigators for “selective leaking” and said the department was taking a “news release” when it made a “perfectly staged” photo public in a filing that showed documents strewn on to the floor.

Trump has bashed the photograph on TRUTH Social, saying that investigators managed to get seem as if they found the files this way rather than that agents pulled them from where these were stored and laid them out.

Cannon asked Bratt why so many details had surfaced in news reports which were not made public in filings, but Bratt said he didn’t condone it and didn’t think these were coming “for anyone I use.”

Trump’s lawyers dodged questions from reporters because they exited the courthouse.

Browse the initial article on Business Insider

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