Justice Department officials told a federal judge late Tuesday that the appointment of a special master to oversee a review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate earlier this month was “unnecessary” and would impede her investigation. government on the president’s handling of classified documents. , along with an ongoing national security risk assessment.
In a lengthy response to Trump’s request for an independent inspector, prosecutors also denied allegations that the former president had cooperated with authorities in the months leading up to the unprecedented Aug. 8 investigation. Justice officials said Trump’s lawyers barred investigators in June from seeing the contents of boxes inside a warehouse “to confirm no classified documents remained.”
Two months later, FBI agents descended on the property where they discovered 11 sets of classified documents among more than 20 boxes removed from the property.
“The legal issues presented and the relief sought in the filings are limited, despite the broad baseless allegations leveled against the government in the motion,” Justice officials said, referring to Trump’s request. “Not only does Plaintiff lack standing to raise these claims at this juncture, but even if his claims were properly raised, Plaintiff would not be entitled to the relief he seeks.”
The Justice filing included a photo showing how investigators found top-secret files, some of which were classified as the highest in the government, strewn around a carpeted warehouse next to a box of magazines.
Justice’s filing comes a day after prosecutors told a federal judge that a “limited set of materials” that may be protected by attorney-client privilege were found among documents seized in this month’s search of Trump’s Florida estate.
In a brief court filing, Justice officials said they have completed reviewing information recovered during the investigation and are addressing any “disputes” of privilege.
While Trump’s lawyers have called for a special master or third party to be appointed to review the documents for any privileged information, federal authorities said a so-called “privilege review team” had already been assigned to do the same thing.
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Trump’s lawyers had asked to halt the review of the documents until a special master was appointed, but US District Judge Eileen Cannon denied that request.
Cannon, who last week signaled her intention to appoint a document master, has set a hearing on the matter for 1pm on Thursday.
The legal battle unfolds as a separate federal court in Florida authorized the release of the heavily redacted affidavit used to support the unprecedented search, indicating that possible “obstructive evidence” could be found at Trump’s property.
Federal investigators also revealed in the affidavit that an initial batch of 15 boxes of documents transferred from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Administration in January contained 184 classified documents, including some labeled “HSC” that related to classified human sources .
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The disclosure prompted a separate assessment of whether the unsecured documents pose a new threat to national security. Justice acknowledged this week that US intelligence officials are in the process of conducting the risk assessment.
Trump’s lawyers, in their original request for a special master, framed the search in strictly political terms and described the administration’s search warrant as overly broad because it authorized FBI agents to seize “boxes of documents simply because they were physically found with other objects alleged to be within the scope of the warrant’.
The former president’s lawyers also accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of using the criminal justice system to change the political landscape.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DOJ says Trump’s request for special master would block search of documents