On Friday, the Justice Department requested that a federal appeals court reverse the judge’s decision to appoint an impartial arbitrator to assess the documentation found during an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort.
The appeal is the most recent shot in a weeks-long legal battle over the range of responsibilities of the arbitrator, also referred to as a special master. A court gave him the task last month of going through the thousands of documents seized during the search at Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and eliminating any that might be subject to legal privilege defenses from the inquiry.
The Justice Department’s inquiry into the storage of top-secret information at the residence has experienced some delays as a result of the special master process. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit overturned a temporary ban on the department’s ability to use the confiscated secret materials as part of its criminal investigation, however, clearing a significant obstacle.
The action allowed an important component of the investigation to resume, considerably lowering the possibility that the special master procedure would have a significant influence on the inquiry. Department attorneys, however, went back before the court on Friday to request that the special master review be stopped completely. They argued that the judge who appointed the special master had no legal justification to do so and that Trump was not qualified to conduct his own review of the records that had been seized or to assert his privilege over them.
“Plaintiff has no plausible claim of executive privilege as to any of the seized materials and no plausible claim of personal attorney-client privilege as to the seized government records — including all records bearing classification markings,” according to the department’s brief.
“Accordingly,” they added, ”the special-master review process is unwarranted.”