US judge halts review of documents that were seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
The Justice Department has been temporarily prohibited from reviewing documents found during the raid of Donald Trump’s Florida home last month by a US judge, who also mandated the appointment of a neutral third party to judge the materials’ content.
Judge Aileen Cannon ruled in favor of the former president on Monday, granting his request for an unbiased “special master” to examine the documents seized during the August 8 raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate in order to look for anything that might be “subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.”
Presidents have the legal right to keep some internal communications secret under the concept of executive privilege.
In addition, Cannon, a Trump appointee, stated that the Justice Department could neither examine or use the data that had been seized “for investigative purposes pending completion of the special master’s review or further Court order.”
The criminal probe into Trump’s potential misuse of classified documents is likely to be delayed as a result of the judge’s ruling.
Trump had demanded a “special master,” but the Justice Department had refused him, claiming that it had previously reviewed the papers and found a “limited” number of possibly privileged documents.
US prosecutors stated that the “investigative team has been and will be continually mindful of the potential for attorney-client privilege issues and the filter protocols contained in the search warrant” in a prior court filing that was made public last week.
Cannon stated on Monday that the intelligence community can continue its evaluation of the materials for classified document and any national security concerns despite temporarily stopping the Justice Department’s use of the documents in its investigation.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (‘ODNI’) may conduct a classification review and/or intelligence assessment without being hindered by this order, she wrote.
According to a court document made public last week, the FBI found 18 records during the search that were classified as “top secret.” Agents also took possession of dozens of files marked “classified,” some of which were empty.
Trump and his allies have discredited the investigation, claiming that it is politically motivated in spite of lack of supporting data.
Trump referred to the raid of his house as a “egregious abuse of the law” and warned that it will result in “a backlash the likes of which nobody has ever seen” during a rally on Saturday.
President Joe Biden has reiterated that the White House does not meddle in investigations carried out by the Justice Department and denied having prior knowledge of the search.
Before leaving office in early 2021, according to Trump, he declassified the documents.