DOJ asks SCOTUS to reject Trump plea for intervention on special master

The Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to reject former President Trump’s plea to intervene in his legal battle and allow the special master to review the classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s request to the high court comes after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Justice Department, siphoning off some 100 classified records from the third party special master review of the document seized from his Florida home.

The motion from Trump largely hinged on procedural grounds, arguing the appeals court erred by granting a stay of a challenge to a Florida judge’s ruling appointing the special master that barred DOJ from accessing the classified records for its investigation.

But the Justice Department on Tuesday swiped back at Trump, arguing his legal team had done little to justify the need for the court’s intervention as he failed to show he would be harmed without their action.

Trump’s filing last week doesn’t seek to block DOJ from investigating the classified records, and instead would allow the ongoing special master review to include those 100 documents – a move that would offer limited benefit to the former president.

DOJ wrote that the 11th Circuit had jurisdiction to review the case of a lower court in its entirety.

“It follows that the court of appeals had jurisdiction to review the entire order — including the portion directing that a ‘special master shall be appointed to review the seized property,’” they wrote.

The Justice Department also said Trump’s own actions before the 11th Circuit undercut his case. Trump’s legal team opposed a motion from DOJ seeking to expedite its case challenging the appointment of a special master.

“Indeed, because applicant has no plausible claims of ownership of or privilege in the documents bearing classification markings, he will suffer no harm at all from a temporary stay of the special master’s review of those materials while the government’s appeal proceeds. And applicant further undermined any claim that he is suffering irreparable injury from the stay by opposing the government’s motion to expedite the underlying appeal and urging that oral argument be deferred until ‘January 2023 or later,’” DOJ wrote.

Trump’s lawyers last week argued that the federal appeals court erred by allowing the Justice Department to appeal a move that was procedural in nature.

“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,” they wrote. “This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master.”

The latest news comes after the 11th Circuit sided with the DOJ, agreeing to an expedited schedule as the Justice Department appeals a decision from federal district court Judge Aileen Cannon, who sided with Trump in appointing a special master to review the evidence collected at Mar-a-Lago.

While Trump has claimed some of the records from his presidency are either his personal property or protected by executive privilege, the DOJ has argued that former presidents are unable to assert executive privilege and that any presidential records created under Trump must be managed by the National Archives.

The Justice Department’s brief before the 11th Circuit is due Friday.

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