DOJ told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta that Federal Judge Aileen M. Cannon was wrong to intervene in its investigation into the former president’s hoarding of sensitive records.
The Justice Department asked an appeals court on Friday to end a special master review of thousands of documents that the F.B.I. seized from former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida estate, arguing that a federal judge had been wrong to intervene in its investigation into Mr. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive government records.
In a 53-page brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the Justice Department broadly challenged the legal legitimacy of orders last month by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who blocked investigators from using the materials and appointed an independent arbiter to sift them for any that are potentially privileged or Mr. Trump’s personal property.
The Justice Department already succeeded in persuading a panel of the Atlanta-based court to exempt about 100 documents marked classified from Judge Cannon’s move — a decision the Supreme Court declined to overturn this week. In its new filing, the Justice Department asked the appeals court to reverse her order for the remaining 11,000 or so documents. “This court has already granted the government’s motion to stay that unprecedented order insofar as it relates to the documents bearing classification markings,” the filing said. “The court should now reverse the order in its entirety for multiple independent reasons.”
The Justice Department centered their brief on sweeping criticism of lower court Judge Aileen Cannon’s actions, arguing she had no authority to interfere with their federal criminal investigation. The Justice Department is asking the federal appeals court to invalidate Cannon’s order and end the special master’s review of documents.
“District courts have no general equitable authority to superintend federal criminal investigations,” the brief said. “[I]nstead, challenges to the government’s use of the evidence recovered in a search are resolved through ordinary criminal motions practice if and when charges are filed. Here, however, the district court granted the extraordinary relief Plaintiff sought….”
This appeals process, however, will take at least several weeks. While a federal judge did grant the department’s request to expedite the appeal, Trump’s legal team still has until November 10 to file a response, and the 11th Circuit will not schedule oral arguments until after the department files a subsequent reply on November 17.
As it stands now, the special master’s review must be complete by December 16, a timeline set into motion by Cannon, a Trump appointee.