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Justice Department Says It’s OK With 1 Of Trump’s Picks For Mar-a-Lago Arbiter

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department said Monday that it was willing to simply accept considered one of Donald Trump’s picks for an independent arbiter to review documents seized during an FBI search of the previous president’s Florida home last month.

The accommodation could help speed up the choice process and shorten any delays brought on by the appointment of the so-called special master. The judge within the case, granting a request from the Trump team, said last week that she would appoint a neutral arbiter to undergo the records and weed out any that could be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

Department lawyers said in a filing Monday night that, along with the 2 retired judges whom they earlier advisable, they might even be satisfied with considered one of the Trump team selections — Raymond Dearie, the previous chief judge of the federal court within the Eastern District of Recent York. He’s currently on senior lively status, and the department said he had indicated he was available and “could perform the work expeditiously” if appointed.

It was not immediately clear whether U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon would name Dearie or another person. The Trump team said earlier Monday that it opposed each Justice Department selections.

The back-and-forth over the special master got here as Trump’s lawyers in a 21-page filing Monday dismissed the former president’s retention of top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago as a “storage dispute” and urged Cannon to maintain in place a directive that temporarily halted key elements of the Justice Department’s criminal probe. The Trump team referred to the documents that were seized as “purported ‘classified records,’” saying the Justice Department had not proven that the materials taken by the FBI during its Aug. 8 search were classified or remain so now.

The filing underscores the numerous factual and legal disagreements between lawyers for Trump and the U.S. government because the Justice Department looks to maneuver forward with its criminal investigation into the retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago. Department lawyers in their very own filings have rejected the concept that the documents, lots of them classified on the top-secret level, belonged to Trump or that Mar-a-Lago was a permissible place to store them.

“This investigation of the forty fifth President of the US is each unprecedented and misguided,” they wrote. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled uncontrolled, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the forty fifth President of his own Presidential and private records.”

The investigation hit a roadblock last week when Cannon granted the Trump team’s request for a special master and prohibited the department, for now, from examining the documents for investigative purposes.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to lift that hold and said it might contest her ruling to a federal appeals court. The department said its investigation risked being harmed beyond repair if that order remained in place, noting that confusion about its scope had already led the intelligence community to pause a separate risk assessment.

But Trump’s lawyers said in their very own motion Monday that Cannon mustn’t permit the FBI to resume its review of classified records. It said the federal government had unilaterally determined the records to be classified but had not yet proven that they continue to be so.

“In opposing any neutral review of the seized materials, the Government seeks to dam an inexpensive first step towards restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence within the integrity of the method,” the lawyers wrote.

Either side on Friday night proposed different names of candidates who could function special master, though they disagreed on the scope of duties the person must have. Cannon has said the yet-to-be-named arbiter could be tasked with reviewing the documents and segregating out any that could possibly be covered by claims of either executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department advisable either Barbara Jones, a retired judge in Manhattan who has served as special master in prior high-profile investigations, or Thomas Griffith, a retired federal appeals court jurist within the District of Columbia who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush. The department said in its proposal that the special master mustn’t have access to classified documents, or be empowered to contemplate claims of executive privilege.

On Monday, the Trump team told the judge it was objecting to each those candidates but was not prepared to say why publicly in the meanwhile.

Trump’s lawyers proposed either Dearie, a senior judge on lively status within the federal court in Brooklyn who also previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or Florida lawyer Paul Huck Jr. They’ve have said the arbiter must have access to your entire tranche of documents and may have the ability to guage executive privilege claims.

The Justice Department said it was willing to support Dearie’s selection nevertheless it opposed the number of Huck due to what it said was a scarcity of relevant experience.

In its filing Monday, the Trump team again voiced a broad view of presidential power, asserting that a president has an “unfettered right of access” to his presidential records and absolute authority to declassify any information without the “approval of bureaucratic components of the manager branch” — though it didn’t say, as Trump has maintained, that he had actually declassified them.

The Justice Department has said Trump had no right to carry onto the presidential documents. And the criminal statutes the department has used as the idea of its investigation, including one criminalizing the willful retention of national defense information, don’t require that the records be classified.

In any event, the Justice Department says greater than 100 documents with classification markings were present in last month’s search.

Trump, who often spends time at his various properties, was at his Virginia golf club Monday.

Associated Press author Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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