US Asks Appeals Court to Lift Judge’s Mar-a-Lago Inquiry Hold

VOA News Photo Credit: This photo shows an aerial view of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., Aug. 31, 2022.

WASHINGTON —  The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court Friday to lift a judge’s order that temporarily barred it from reviewing a batch of classified documents seized during an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home last month.

The department told the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta that the judge’s hold was impeding the “government’s efforts to protect the nation’s security” and interfering with its investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago. It said the hold needed to be lifted immediately so work could resume.

“The government and the public would suffer irreparable harm absent a stay,” department lawyers wrote in their brief to the appeals court.

The judge’s appointment of a “special master” to review the documents and the resulting legal tussle appear certain to further slow the department’s criminal investigation. It remains unclear whether Trump, who has been laying the groundwork for another potential presidential run, or anyone else might be charged.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon earlier this month directed the department to halt its use of the records until further court order, or until the completion of a report of an independent arbiter who is to do his own inspection of the documents and weed out any covered by claims of legal privilege.

On Thursday night, she assigned Raymond Dearie, the former chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn, to serve as the arbiter — also known as a special master. She also declined to lift an order that prevented the department from using for its investigation about 100 seized documents marked as classified, citing ongoing disputes about the nature of the documents that she said merited a neutral review.

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