WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to reject former President Donald Trump’s bid to again empower an independent arbiter to vet classified records seized from his Florida home as part of his legal battle against investigators probing his handling of sensitive government records.
Trump filed an emergency request on Oct. 4 asking the justices to lift a lower court’s decision to prevent the arbiter, known as a special master, from vetting more than 100 documents marked as classified that were among the roughly 11,000 records seized by FBI agents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on Aug. 8.
In a filing on Tuesday, the Justice Department said Trump’s request should be denied because the he has not pointed to any “clear error” in the lower court’s decision, or how he is harmed by it.
Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in court papers that the underlying dispute involves an “unprecedented” attempt to restrict the government’s use of its own classified documents. Trump cannot show that he would suffer “irreparable injury” if the documents are withheld from the special master, she added.
Whatever the court decides in weighing Trump’s relatively narrow request, it will not affect the Justice Department’s access to the same documents in its criminal investigation. The more than 100 classified documents are just a small portion of the 11,000 records seized by federal agents amid concerns that Trump had unlawfully retained official White House records after leaving office.
The high court is reviewing a Sept. 21 decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that barred the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, from reviewing the documents. Trump had not contested a separate part of the ruling that allowed the Justice Department to use the documents.