Trump documents probe gets tangled up in courts | International

The Donald Trump documents case has temporarily reached an impasse. The former president’s lawyers were able to paralyze the investigation thanks to the decision of a federal judge appointed by Trump himself to appoint an independent expert to review the documents seized in the Mar-a-Lago registry before the Department of Justice and the FBI can continue to work with them on the investigation. The prosecutor’s office appealed in order to be able to continue the examination of at least one hundred discovered confidential documents. Otherwise, he argued, it would cause “irreparable damage” to the investigation.

The Justice Department tends to keep a lower profile when an election approaches. Less than two months before the parliamentary elections on November 8, he will not be able to continue working discreetly for the time being. In her order, the judge “temporarily prohibits the government from reviewing and using the seized materials for investigative purposes until the special master investigation is completed or a new court order is issued.” The government may continue to review and use the documents for purposes of classified intelligence and national security assessments, but not for investigation as such.

In her decision, Justice Eileen Cannon was aware that a decision like hers was not the usual and implicitly recognized special treatment for Trump: “Based on the nature of this action, principles of fairness require that the court take into account the particular litigious context, and that consideration is inherent influenced by the position previously held by the plaintiff,” referring to his previous position as president.

Without specifically referring to that case, Attorney General Merrick Garland, head of the Department of Justice, warned this Saturday at an event in New York that the rule of law, or the rule of law, is “fragile” and needs to be taken care of: “The rule of law means that the law treats us all equally: There is no one rule for friends, another for enemies; one rule for the strong, another for the weak; one rule for the rich, another for the poor,” he said.

Judge Eileen Cannon appointed semi-retired New York Judge Raymond J. Deary as a special expert proposed by Trump’s lawyers and accepted by the prosecution. It is your job to verify whether any of these documents are protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. The first protects professional secrecy, which affects the relationship between the investigated party and his lawyer, insofar as they may affect the right to a defense. The second concerns the ability of the executive branch to refuse in certain cases documents to other branches of the state, such as the legislature or the judiciary, a strange claim for someone who is no longer part of that branch, and to hold it against those who now do. .

Trump will cover the cost of the special expert and the administrative support he needs, but his work to review more than 11,000 documents could take a long time. For this reason, the Ministry of Justice urged the judge to at least allow it to continue its investigation into the hundred seized documents, which are marked as confidential. This he refused, although he made a small concession: he ordered the expert to review them first and opened the door to reconsider his decision later. The prosecutor’s office did not find it sufficient and appealed to the higher instance.

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“The district judge has issued an unprecedented order barring the executive branch’s use of its own top secret records in a criminal investigation with a direct impact on national security,” the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said in the complaint. it to “suspend only those portions of the order that cause the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public by limiting the government’s review and use of classified records and requiring the government to disclose those records to a special review process. “

The Justice Department argued that the privileges claimed by Trump could not be applied to the classified documents. “The plaintiff cannot seek the return of these records that belong to the government and were seized in a court-authorized search,” he explained, adding that they are “central to the ongoing investigation.”

Trump and his lawyers are playing cat and mouse with the idea that these documents may have been leaked. The former president confirmed this on his social network, but the lawyers avoided getting wet in court. This allowed the judge to say that they should be examined like everyone else and that conclusions would be drawn.

In its complaint, the Justice Department argued that refusing to continue working with those documents could cause irreparable harm. And regarding the possibility of their being declassified, it says: “Despite multiple opportunities, plaintiff has never stated that he actually took any of these steps, much less supported such a statement with competent evidence. The court erred in granting an emergency measure based on unproven possibilities.”

The appeals court to which the appeal refers is based in Atlanta and 6 of its 11 magistrates were appointed by Trump himself. Regardless of the final outcome of the appeal, Judge Cannon’s action has already had one consequence: it has muddled the court case and delayed the investigation.

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