Appeals court will expedite review of special master appointment in Trump documents case

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to expedite the Justice Department’s appeal of District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s order appointing a special master to review documents seized by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The Justice Department opposes the appointment of an independent special master to review the seized documents, as well as Cannon’s order that paused federal investigators from reviewing the documents seized and marked as classified. The 11th Circuit only allowed Special Master Raymond Dearie to review records for attorney-client and executive privilege.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals released an order Wednesday saying that the matter will be reviewed on the merits sometime after Nov. 17.

The Justice Department has argued that it is unable to examine records taken from Trump’s Florida estate that may constitute as evidence of crimes, and it has said that an expedited appeal ‘if successful’ would allow the government to ‘more quickly resume its full investigation without restraints on its review and use of evidence seized pursuant to a lawful search warrant.’

Trump has denied that any of the materials in his possession at Mar-a-Lago were classified.

But Trump’s legal team on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to intervene, requesting that Justice Clarence Thomas, who has jurisdiction over the 11th Circuit, vacate the stay, which allowed the Justice Department to continue its review of classified documents seized during the FBI’s unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago.

‘The unprecedented circumstances presented by this case — an investigation of the Forty-Fifth President of the United States by the administration of his political rival and successor — compelled the District Court to acknowledge the significant need for enhanced vigilance and to order the appointment of a Special Master to ensure fairness, transparency, and maintenance of the public trust,’ the filing states.

‘That appointment order is simply not appealable on an interlocutory basis and was never before the Eleventh Circuit. Nonetheless, the Eleventh Circuit granted a stay of the Special Master Order, effectively compromising the integrity of the well-established policy against piecemeal appellate review and ignoring the District Court’s broad discretion without justification,’ the filing continues.

Trump’s legal team added that this ‘unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master.’

‘Moreover, any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a President’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice,’ the filing continued.

At this point, Dearie is tasked with reviewing approximately 11,000 records seized by the FBI during its raid of Trump’s private residence. The special master and his team will review those records for executive privilege, attorney-client privilege and for personal records.

Dearie’s deadline to review the documents was extended to Dec. 16. The original deadline was Nov. 30.

Dearie has scheduled a status conference for Thursday.

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