US, Trump team propose names for arbitrator in Mar-A-Lago probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department and Donald Trump’s legal team on Friday proposed candidates for the role of independent arbitrator in the investigation into top-secret documents found in the former president’s Florida home, but the two sides differed on the scope of the duties that the person would have.

Trump’s attorneys said they believe the so-called special master should review all documents seized by the FBI during its search last month of Mar-a-Lago, including records with classification marks, and filter any documents that may be found. are protected by claims of executive privilege.

The Justice Department said it does not believe that the arbitrator should inspect classified documents or consider possible claims of executive privilege.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had given both sides until Friday to submit potential candidates for the role of special master, as well as proposals for the person’s scope of duties and the schedule for his or her work.

The Justice Department has submitted the names of two retired judges: Barbara Jones, who has served on the Manhattan federal bench and held the same role in previous high-profile investigations, and Thomas Griffith, a former attorney with the District Court of Appeals. or Columbia.

The Trump team proposed a retired judge, Raymond Dearie — also the former top federal prosecutor in New York’s Eastern District — and prominent Florida attorney Paul Huck Jr.

The back-and-forth about the Special Master takes place during an FBI investigation into the preservation of hundreds of classified documents recovered in Mar-a-Lago over the past year. While the legal wrangling is unlikely to have a major long-term impact on the criminal investigation or significantly throw it off course, it will almost certainly slow it down and has already caused the intelligence community to temporarily suspend a national risk assessment. .

Following heavy objections from the Justice Department, Cannon on Monday granted the Trump team’s request for the special captain and ordered the department to temporarily halt reviewing data for investigative purposes.

She said the person would be responsible for searching the records recovered during the Aug. 8 Mar-a-Lago search and filtering out any documents that may fall under attorney-client or executive privilege claims.

About 11,000 documents – including more than 100 with classified markings, some at the highest secret level – were recovered during the search. That’s in addition to classified documents in 15 boxes retrieved by the National Archives and Records Administration in January, and additional sensitive government documents that the department retrieved during a visit to Mar-a-Lago in June.

The Justice Department had objected to the Trump team’s request for a special master’s degree, saying it had already completed its own review, which identified a limited subset of records that may relate to attorney and attorney privileges. client. It has maintained that administrative law does not apply in this investigation because Trump, no longer president, had no right to claim the documents as his property.

The department filed an appeal Thursday saying it will appeal the judge’s order to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Officials asked the judge to release its hold on their investigative work pending their appeal, as well as its demand that the department share the secret documents recovered with a special master.

It is not clear whether Trump or anyone else will be charged.

This is a story in development. Come back for updates.