Trump Given One Choice for Arbiter in Probe Investigation


    WASHINGTON (AP) (AP) The Justice Department said Monday that it would be willing to consider one of Trump's nominees as an independent arbiter to look over documents found in the FBI investigation at the ex-president's Florida residence. 

    This arrangement may speed up the process of selecting a candidate and cut down on any delays that result from the appointment of the special master. A judge, after granting an appeal from Trump's team, stated last week that she would designate a neutral arbitrator to look over the documents and identify the ones that could be covered under legal privileges or executive privilege.

    Department lawyers claimed in a Monday night filing that along with retiring judges they had previously recommended and endorsed, they would also be happy with one of Trump team's selections -Raymond Dearie, former chief judge of the federal court located in the Eastern District of New York. He is currently in senior active status and the department stated that Dearie had the possibility of being available to be a judge and “could perform the work expeditiously” in the event of being selected.

    It wasn't certain if U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon would select Dearie or a different person. The Trump team had earlier on Monday that it would not support any of the Justice Department selections.

    The debate over the special master's role came from the Trump lawyers through a 21-page report Monday rejecting the ex-president's decision to retain secret files in the Mar-a-Lago compound, and urged Cannon to maintain an order that temporarily suspended crucial elements of the Department's investigation. The Trump team also referred to the documents seized in the search as “purported ‘classified records,'” declaring that they were classified records. The Justice Department had not proven that the documents seized by the FBI in the August raid were classified, or are at the moment.

    The disclosure highlights the major legal and factual differences between the Trump lawyers and government officials from the U.S. government as the Justice Department looks to move ahead with its criminal investigation regarding the storage of national defense data at Mar-a-Lago. The department's lawyers, in their own filings, have ruled out the notion that the papers, a majority of which are classified as top-secret, belong to Trump as well as that Mar-a-Lago was a suitable location to keep the documents.

    “This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” they said. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”

    The investigation came to a halt last week when Cannon approved the Trump team's demand for an extra master and barred the department, for time being, from reviewing documents for investigation purposes.

    The Justice Department has asked the judge to lift the suspension and to challenge her decision to an appeals court of the federal level. The department claimed that the investigation could be damaged if the order is not lifted and noted that the confusion over its scope has already prompted the intelligence community to suspend an independent risk assessment.

    However, Trump's lawyers declared in their own motion on Monday that Cannon shouldn't allow the FBI the chance to carry out its examination of classified documents. They claimed that the government had decided unilaterally that the records should be classified, but they had not yet proved that they were classified.

    “In opposing any neutral review of the seized materials, the Government seeks to block a reasonable first step towards restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence in the integrity of the process,” lawyers submitted.

    Both parties at the end of Friday offered different names of people who could be appointed as special masters, but they differed over the scope of duties the individual would be expected to perform. Cannon has indicated that the yet-to-be-named arbitrator would be charged with looking over the documents and sorting the ones that might be subject to claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

    The Justice Department recommended Barbara Jones, an old judge from Manhattan who served as the special master in high-profile investigations in the past, as well as Thomas Griffith, a retired federal appeals court jurist from the District of Columbia who was appointed by former president George W. Bush. The department stated in its suggestion that the master is not allowed the ability to access classified information or be given the authority to review the claims of executive privilege.

    On Monday, the Trump team informed the judge that they were opposing both of them, but did not want to explain why at this point.

    Trump's lawyers suggested the choice of Dearie, a judge with a high rank with active status within the court of federal jurisdiction in Brooklyn, who was previously in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or Florida lawyer Paul Huck Jr. They have stated that the arbitrator should have access to all documents and be able to assess the executive privilege claim.

    The Justice Department said it was in favor of Dearie's selection however, it was against the selection of Huck due to the department's assertion that Huck had thae lack of relevant experience.

    In the Monday filing, the Trump team once again outlined a broad interpretation of the power of the president and said that a president is granted access to an “unfettered right of access” to his presidential files and absolute power to disclose any information that is not subject to having the “approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch” -however, it did not mention, like Trump has claimed, that the records had been declassified by him.

    The Justice Department has said Trump was not entitled to retain the presidential records. Furthermore, the criminal statutes used by the department to support its investigation, which includes one that criminalizes the willful keeping of defense information for national security, does not require the documents be classified.

    In any case, it is true that the Justice Department says more than 100 documents bearing markings of classification were found during the hunt.

    Trump is known to spend a lot of time at his properties. Trump was at his Virginia golf club on Monday.


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