Washington In the legal dispute after the discovery of alleged secret documents in the ex-US President’s estate donald trump His lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court, asking the court on Tuesday (local time) to overturn a lower court decision in September barring an independent expert from reviewing about 100 documents classified as confidential, secret or top secret. The Trump team had made a great effort to appoint this external auditor.
On August 8, FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private residence in Palm Beach, Florida. According to the US federal police, they secured almost 11,000 documents that were found in a storage room and an office in the villa.
The search warrant later revealed that the agents were investigating possible violations of three federal laws governing, among other things, handling the collection, disclosure and loss of information related to defense policy.
After a request from Trump’s team, a federal judge in Florida, Aileen Cannon, appointed long-time lawyer Raymond Dearie as a so-called special master, i.e. as an independent expert. Cannon ordered him to examine the documents seized in Mar-a-Lago, screening out those for which Trump might have special powers that might be protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.
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The latter refers to the prerogative of a US President to block the disclosure of certain information from his term of office. At the same time, the judge initially prohibited the FBI from evaluating the allegedly confidential or secret documents as part of the investigation.
The Justice Department appealed the case, and in September, an Atlanta Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Cannon’s decision to prevent federal investigators from examining the case.
It also limited the Special Master’s access to the much larger tranche of non-classified documents. The reason given at the time was that there was no legal basis for the expert to see the secret papers himself.
In their application to the US Supreme Court, however, Trump’s lawyers stated that it was essential that the Special Master had access to the classified documents.
Because that way he can decide whether they are actually secret and whether they are personal or presidential documents. As President, Trump had absolute authority over the classification of documents.
Therefore, the current status of documents cannot be determined solely by means of markings applied to them, the application said. Without a Special Master’s review, the unchallenged views of the Justice Department would take the place of the President’s established authority. An independent investigation, on the other hand, ensures a “transparent procedure” that enables much-needed supervision.
How it goes on
Trump’s attorneys submitted the application to Chief Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergencies from Florida and other southern states. The constitutional judge, who is considered to be arch-conservative, can now decide on his own or – as is usually the case – forward the request to his colleagues at the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday night, the Supreme Court said the federal government would have until October 11 to respond to Trump’s team’s request.
In the past, Thomas has faced criticism in a case involving other Trump-era documents: he was the only member of the Supreme Court to vote against allowing the Congressional Committee investigating the Capitol Storming on January 6, 2021 to review term documents of the former President stored in the National Archives.