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Former President Donald Trump has formally asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the Department of Justice’s bid to continue reviewing the documents the FBI took from his home in August.
Last week, District Judge Aileen Cannon granted Trump’s request to appoint a special master to review independently the documents the FBI took and to prevent the DOJ from any further review of the materials.
Cannon chose New York Judge Raymond Dearie to serve as the special master. Trump had suggested that Dearie fill the role. The DOJ indicated that it considered him to be an acceptable choice.
Prior to Dearie’s appointment of a special master, the DOJ had already appealed Cannon’s decision to appoint a speak lead master and to bar their further review of the materials. They argued a delay would cause “irreparable harm” to the investigation.
In a filing on Tuesday, Trump’s legal team asked the higher court to reject the DOJ’s appeal.
A key point in Trump’s filing is the assertion that he actually did have authority to declassify the seized documents. It doesn’t state directly that he could, though.
Dearie has sought documents to determine whether Trump did in fact declassify the materials taken.
Just The News reported:
First among the former president’s arguments is Trump’s assertion that “[t]he material seized from President Trump’s home includes not only ‘personal effects without evidentiary value’ but also approximately five hundred pages of material that is likely subject to attorney-client privilege, as well as medical documents, and tax and accounting information.” The former president’s legal team then asserts that Trump maintains “‘a colorable ownership, possessory or security interest in at least a portion of the’ seized property.”
The second of his points addresses a prior executive order that former President Barack Obama issued granting the president broad authority to declassify documents. “The President has absolute authority to declassify any information,” they wrote, citing the Obama-era order. “There is no legitimate contention that the President’s declassification of documents requires approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch.”
Trump has previously said that the documents in his possession were previously declassified under his presidential authority.
Former advisors to President Trump had also said that he had the legal authority to declassify the documents.
“To the extent certain of the seized materials constitute Presidential records, a former President has an unfettered right of access to his Presidential records even though he may not ‘own’ them,” the filing reads.
Trump attorney James Trusty told Dearie on Tuesday that he believes the request for specifics on declassification went beyond the scope of his appointment as special master. Dearie said that he was “taken aback” by this claim from Trusty.