The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida Thursday, following the court’s decision to approve former president Donald Trump’s request for a special master.
The notice of appeal was followed by a motion to stay. If granted, the motion to stay would permit the government to review classified documents without the special master’s appointment.
On September 5, the court issued an order authorizing the appointment of a special master “to review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property,” and “enjoin[ing]” the government “from further review and use of any of the materials … for criminal investigative purposes pending resolution of the special master’s review process.”
The DOJ argued that preventing the government from reviewing the classified records without a special master would “cause the most immediate and serious harm to the government and the public.” The motion to stay was in regard to 100 documents labeled as classified, a fraction of the 11,000+ documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Under the Presidential Records Act (PRA), the president must preserve their records and deliver them to the National Archives and Records Administration upon completion of the presidential term. Trump has repeatedly invoked executive privilege and attorney-client privilege in efforts to stop the investigation into documents he kept after his departure from the White House.
The DOJ’s motion for partial stay invoked United States v. Nixon, stating that “the Supreme Court emphasized that privilege claims ‘must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law’ and that executive privilege ‘must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.'”