The Justice Department has asked a federal appellate court to speed up its schedule for weighing the department’s appeal of a judge’s order requiring a special master to review classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.
In the expedition request filed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, the DOJ proposed a briefing schedule that would wrap up written briefs by November 11, while asking the appeals court to schedule a hearing at its earliest convenience. Under the current schedule for the appeal, the last written brief is due about a month later, and oral arguments have not been scheduled yet.
“Expediting the appeal would serve the interests of justice because the portions of the district court’s injunction that have not been stayed restrict the government’s ability to vindicate the strong public interest in proceeding expeditiously with the criminal and national security investigation that underlies these proceedings,” the DOJ wrote in the filing.
The Justice Department had asked for the 11th Circuit’s intervention in the Mar-a-Lago documents dispute after former President Donald Trump successfully sued to obtain the appointment of a special master – a third-party attorney tasked with reviewing evidence and filtering out privileged documents – to pore over the roughly 11,000 documents the FBI had seized in its August 8 search of his Palm Beach, Florida, residence and resort.
The DOJ noted in the Friday night filing how quickly the emergency litigation proceeded when it successfully sought to exempt documents marked as classified from the review. The department pointed to a part of the 11th Circuit opinion granting the carve out that said Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee who ordered the special master, acted beyond her authority in granting the request for the third-party review.
“Although the panel’s determination related specifically to the documents bearing classification markings, its reasoning arguably applies more broadly,” the DOJ said.
The department wrote to the court that an expedited briefing and argument schedule could allow its investigators, if successful in the appeal, to resume its full probe.
The government, the DOJ wrote in the filing “is thus unable to examine records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings including records that may shed light on, for example, how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them.”
For his part, Trump is opposing the request to speed things up.
Earlier this month, the appeals court overturned key elements of Cannon’s original ruling, allowing the Justice Department to resume the criminal probe’s use of the documents marked as classified, which may well be the heart of the investigation.
This story has been updated with additional details Friday.