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Trump asks Supreme Court to intervene in seized documents case

ABC News 10/4/2022
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Former President Donald Trump, in a limited request, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt part of an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and restore a special master's access to classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago while the Justice Department review continues.

"The Eleventh Circuit lacked jurisdiction to review, much less stay, an interlocutory order of the District Court providing for the Special Master to review materials seized from President Trump’s home, including approximately 103 documents the Government contends bear classification markings. This application seeks to vacate only that portion of the Eleventh Circuit’s Stay Order limiting the scope of the Special Master’s review of the documents bearing classification markings," Trump's lawyers write.

MORE: DOJ can continue Trump classified docs investigation without special master: Appeals court FBI photograph of redacted documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container stored in former U.S. president Donald Trump's Florida estate that was included in a U.S. Department of Justice filing Aug. 30, 2022. © U.S. Department Of Justice via Reuters FBI photograph of redacted documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container stored in former U.S. president Donald Trump's Florida estate that was included in a U.S. Department of Justice filing Aug. 30, 2022.

The application was made to Justice Clarence Thomas, circuit justice for the 11th Circuit. He could rule on his own, or refer the matter to the full court. The Justice Department was given a deadline of Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. to respond to Trump's emergency application.

On Sept. 21, a panel of judges on the appeals court granted a request from the Justice Department to stay portions of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that had effectively paused the government's investigation into Trump's potential mishandling of classified records after leaving office.

The three-judge panel, comprised of two Trump appointees and a Barack Obama appointee, ruled unanimously that the Justice Department was no longer enjoined from investigating the documents with classification markings that were recovered from Mar-a-Lago and no longer had to submit those materials to special master Ray Dearie for his independent review.

An aerial view shows former U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents searched it, in Palm Beach, Fla. Aug. 15, 2022. © Marco Bello/Reuters An aerial view shows former U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents searched it, in Palm Beach, Fla. Aug. 15, 2022. MORE: Judge rejects special master's request on seized documents, handing win to Trump

"The unprecedented circumstances presented by this case -- an investigation of the Forty-Fifth President of the United States by the administration of his political rival and successor -- compelled the District Court to acknowledge the significant need for enhanced vigilance and to order the appointment of a Special Master to ensure fairness, transparency, and maintenance of the public trust," Trump's lawyers write in their filing.

"That appointment order is simply not appealable on an interlocutory basis and was never before the Eleventh Circuit. Nonetheless, the Eleventh Circuit granted a stay of the Special Master Order, effectively compromising the integrity of the well-established policy against piecemeal appellate review and ignoring the District Court’s broad discretion without justification," they continue.

"This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master. Moreover, any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a President’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice," they say.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify what the Trump legal team appeal is asking of the court.

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