After Judge Aileen Cannon appointed Trump’s special master pick, Judge Raymond Dearie, and continued to block the Justice Department’s review of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, the DOJ asked a federal appeals court on Friday to stay the judge’s order and permit the review.
“The district court has entered an unprecedented order enjoining the Executive Branch’s use of its own highly classified records in a criminal investigation with direct implications for national security,” the Friday filing said, “The government and the public would suffer irreparable harm absent a stay” of the order.
For background, on September 5, Judge Cannon granted Trump’s request to temporarily prohibit the Justice Department from continuing to review the classified materials, while still allowing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to continue its examination. Days later on September 8, the Justice Department said it would appeal Cannon’s ruling, saying that it will “seek relief from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit if the court didn’t grant a stay by September 15.” So it did. (In the Eleventh Circuit, six of the 11 justices were nominated by Trump, according to The Hill.)
On Thursday, Cannon denied the DOJ’s motion, writing: “The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion.”
In Thursday’s ruling, Judge Cannon also selected one of former President Donald Trump’s nominees—Judge Dearie—for special master to conduct the review of the documents seized in the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. Judge Dearie was the former chief judge of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York and served as a former judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Legal experts predicted Dearie would be chosen for the job.
Judge Cannon was appointed by Trump in 2020. Legal experts have repeatedly questioned Cannon’s rulings. John Dean, the former White House counsel for President Nixon, tweeted: “Judge Cannon is treating Trump like a King temporarily out of power. It is disgusting!”
Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC on Friday that he thought Judge Cannon is giving Trump preferential treatment, which “is a violation of a judge’s oath of office to treat every individual the same. The fact that he is the former president doesn’t mean he get treated worse, but it does not mean, as she did, that he’s treated better.”
Dearie has already requested all of the lawyers to meet at the Brooklyn federal courthouse on Tuesday to discuss the document review. Dearie will be tasked with reviewing the 11,000 records to determine whether they belong to the former president, and whether they are protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.