Court agrees to fast-track DOJ’s appeal in Trump special master case

U.S.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday agreed to fast-track an appeal by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the appointment of a special master to review thousands of pages of government records seized this summer from former President Trump’s Florida home. 

The one-page order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit sets an aggressive timeline for the case, ordering that multiple rounds of paper briefs by the DOJ and Trump wrap up by Nov. 17.

The Atlanta-based appeals court previously handed the DOJ a temporary victory in the case, agreeing to partially block a judge’s order that would have halted federal investigators from reviewing 100 classified documents that were among the records taken in August from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. 

In a related development on Tuesday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to reverse the 11th Circuit’s interim ruling while the appeal plays out. The government’s response to the justices is due Tuesday. 

The investigation into Trump’s potentially criminal mishandling of highly sensitive government information has been ensnared in procedural court wrangling since shortly after the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Palm Beach residence in early August.  

In September, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida granted the former president’s request for the appointment of a third party, known as a special master, to determine if the seized materials exceeded the scope of the warrant or contained any information subject to attorney-client or executive privilege. 

The judge presiding over Trump’s request, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, also ordered federal agents to suspend their investigative review of the seized materials to allow the special master’s work to proceed — the portion of her order that was later halted by the 11th Circuit while the DOJ’s formal appeal continues.

Judge Raymond Dearie, who was selected for the special master role after he was suggested by Trump, has already begun initial work in reviewing the nearly 11,000 government records — totaling some 200,000 pages — seized during the search that do not bear any classification markings.

Trump has claimed that even as a former president, executive privilege entitles him to retain some of the documents stored at his home. The government has argued that any records created while he served as the executive are presidential records and must be maintained by the National Archives.

Rebecca Beitsch contributed. Updated at 2:29 p.m.

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