A U.S. judge appointed by former president Donald Trump sided with Trump and refused to let the Department of Justice immediately resume reviewing classified records seized by the FBI from Trump’s Florida estate, as part of the ongoing criminal investigation, Reuters reported.
Federal Judge Aileen Cannon also appointed Senior District Judge Raymond Dearie as a third party to review records seized by the FBI for materials that could be privileged and kept from federal investigators.
Cannon’s ruling further complicates the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Justice Department. The Justice Department is investigating Trump for snatching more than 100 classified and highly classified government records and stashing them away in his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach after he left the White House in January 2021.
Some of the files were “top secret,” and experts say jeopardized U.S. national security among other national interests.
The department also is looking into possible obstruction of the probe after it found evidence that records may have been removed or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to Mar-a-Lago in June to try to recover all classified documents through a grand jury subpoena.
The Justice Department asked Cannon on Sept. 8 to partially lift her prior restriction banning its investigators from reviewing all of the documents seized last month at Mar-a-Lago so they could at least continue scrutinizing the ones marked as classified. They also asked the judge to exclude those classified records from the scope of the special master’s review,
Trump’s team opposed both requests. They told Cannon they dispute the claim all records are classified and that a special master would be needed to keep prosecutors in check.
The Justice Department has promised to take the case to an appeals court if Cannon ruled against their request.
The Department of Justice has also sought to block the independent arbiter, Dearie, from vetting the roughly 100 classified documents included among the 11,000 records gathered in the court-approved Aug. 8 search.