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Appeals panel questions Trump lawyer on FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago

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Appeals panel questions Trump lawyer on FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago
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ATLANTA — A three-judge appeals court panel emerged Tuesday extremely skeptical that the federal government violated the rights of former President Donald Trump when it searched Mar-a-Lago in August, se asking if a lower court judge was wrong to appoint an outside expert to review the documents. seized from Florida property.

During oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Justice Department tried to convince the judges that the neutral arbitrator, known as the special master, should never have been appointed . Justice Department attorney Sopan Joshi told the panel that Trump had failed to prove that he suffered the “irreparable harm” of the seizure that would legally require a special master. He called the appointment an “intrusion” into the executive.

In response, James Trusty, a lawyer for Trump, argued that a special senior appointment did not significantly impede the government’s investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents, obstruction and destruction of Trump property. government. Trusty said the August 8 search of Trump’s home and private club was too broad and officers took personal items from the former president, including golf shirts and a photo of singer Celine Dion.

But that argument didn’t seem to win over the judges, who repeatedly said Trump’s team had failed to prove he needed the items returned to him and that the search was overstated. Chief Justice William H. Pryor Jr said he was concerned about the precedent the case could set by allowing the target of a search warrant to enter court and request a special master who could interfere with an executive branch investigation before an indictment is issued. .

Pryor also appeared to criticize Trump’s team for requesting a special master without proving the original search was illegal.

“If you can’t establish that it was illegal,” he said, “then what are we doing here?”

Garland Appoints Special Counsel to Lead Trump Mar-a-Lago Investigations, Jan. 6

Pryor and Justices Andrew L. Brasher and Britt C. Grant heard the case. Grant and Brash are both appointed by Trump and Pryor, the former attorney general of Alabama, was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Both Brasher and Grant were on the three-judge panel that ruled against Trump in September in a narrower appeal of the lower court’s decision to appoint the special master.

Joshi, who argued the Justice Department’s case, is a former clerk to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who now works in the Solicitor General’s office – argued the Jo’s case. This is the first time the Department of Justice has brought in a lawyer from the Solicitor General’s office in a special main proceeding, a sign that the government sees the appeal as an important case that could potentially reach the Court supreme.

Chris Kise, a Trump defense attorney who has previously argued on behalf of Trump in the Master’s Special Proceeding, was not present at the hearing.

The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump

The two sides fought for months over the appointment of the special master – an outside arbiter tasked with determining whether any of the 13,000 unmarked classified documents taken by the FBI from Trump’s home and private club should be protected criminal investigators because of either attorney-client or executive privilege.

It was the first public proceeding surrounding the Mar-A-Lago Document case since Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed Attorney Jack L. Smith to serve as special counsel to the investigation, giving him the control of the daily operations of the criminal investigation. The Justice Department said this week that Smith had considered the arguments made in the appeals court.

Florida federal judge Judge Aileen M. Cannon sided with Trump in September and appointed a special master to review the seized documents, barring the Justice Department from using any of the documents — including 103 documents marked as classified – to the outside. exam completed.

The Justice Department’s earlier appeal allowed the government to immediately resume the use of classified documents in its criminal investigation, which focuses on whether classified documents were mishandled and possible allegations of obstruction or destruction of government property.

This latest appeal asks the court to overturn the entire appointment of the special master, which would end the review process and give prosecutors access to documents that are not marked as classified.

Dearie is expected to complete the review of the 13,000 documents that do not have classified marks next month. At an initial hearing, he expressed skepticism that Trump had any personal or lien claims to the material seized; he has yet to say whether some should be considered privileged and immune from criminal investigators.

Any recommendation to protect documents or not should be approved by Cannon, unless the special appointment of the master is overridden.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

washingtonpost

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