A federal judge in Florida hinted on Thursday that she is giving serious consideration to temporarily prohibiting the Justice Department investigators from reviewing any files which were taken from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon said that while she is giving thought to putting this restriction in place, she may grant an exception for the intelligence community to proceed with their review on any possible national security risks caused by the plethora of documents seized by the FBI.
Lawyers representing the Justice Department hit back at Cannon’s restrictions stating that such a move with hinder their investigation.
During a 90-minute hearing, Jay Bratt, who is one of the lawyers representing the Justice Department, pleaded with Cannon not to interrupt the continuing investigation before going on to say that their search warrant was correctly obtained and valid and was executed to obtain “evidence of three significant federal crimes.”
Bratt said in a statement, referring to Trump: “He is no longer the president and because he is no longer the President, he did not have the right to take those documents. He was unlawfully in possession of them… This plaintiff does not have an interest in the classified and other presidential records.”
“It would be unprecedented for the executive to be able to successfully assert privilege against the executive branch,” Bratt’s deputy, Julie Edelstein said.
Cannon expressed concern about a couple of occasions in which the investigative team had flagged potentially privileged material that they then failed to separate during their initial review of the records by their “filter team” who are in place to stop such things taking place.
Cannon chose not to probe Trump’s legal team about Trump’s claim that he declassified many of the materials taken during the search, but she did stop to correct Bratt when he referred to the documents as classified instead of “marked as classified.”
“We treat them as presumptively classified,” Bratt hit back. “We would not turn them over to somebody who does not have the appropriate clearances.”
Trump’s team, however, said they were requesting access to the materials seized by the FBI in order to file potential privilege claims.
“This is not a case about some Department of Defense staffer stuffing military secrets into a bag and sneaking them out in the middle of the night,” said Christopher Kise, who is one of Trump’s two attorneys.
Trump’s other attorney James Trusty argued that the government’s behavior towards Trump breaches the role, of the Presidential Records Act, which allows some leeway between a former President and the National Archives over records and that no criminal enforcement can be enforced.
“They’re trying to criminalize … the judicially-unenforceable Presidential Records Act,” Trusty said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: YAHOO NEWS
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