DoJ bids to regain access to classified documents seized in

Justice department says documents ‘critical’ to national security

The justice department’s legal filing is expected sometime today expanding its arguments why district court judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, must reverse her decision appointing a “special master” in the case of the former president’s hoarding of classified materials at his Florida residence.

In a strongly-worded notice of intent to appeal submitted on Thursday, department lawyers let Cannon know in no uncertain terms that her decision was impeding the progress of an investigation critical to national security.

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The lawyers made clear it needed access back immediately to classified documents seized last month at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion by FBI agents, while Trump’s attorneys are claiming he is entitled to have sent back to him everything that was taken away.

The inquiry took on added poignancy this week when it was reported that another country’s nuclear secrets was among the stash of highly classified documents Trump is said to have hidden from federal agents.

The department will make its own arguments, but we couldn’t explain things any better than Politico Playbook likening Trump to a jewel thief demanding the return of his ill-gotten gains:

Imagine that someone allegedly stole a sack of diamonds from a jewelry shop and then stashed the gems in junk drawers around their house. The cops raid the place, take away everything in the drawers where they find stolen diamonds, and spend two weeks separating them from the junk.

Then a judge comes along and says that the big issue in the case isn’t the stolen diamonds but that the cops still have some of the alleged thief’s personal belongings. She halts the heist investigation until an outside expert can sort the gems from the junk.

The government thinks the judge’s decision is absurd – no other suspect has received this special treatment – but they offer the judge a compromise: let us keep all of the diamonds, and we’ll return all of the alleged thief’s junk, even a few cheap watches that they think he might have swiped from the store.

Also today, the justice department and Trump’s legal team were due to jointly file a list of possible candidates to serve as the “special master” to review the records seized by the FBI.

We’ll bring you news on both fronts as we get it.

Read more:

Key events

The Washington Post’s White House reporter Matt Viser has taken a fascinating look at some of the similarities between Joe Biden and King Charles III.

The White House said Friday that Biden would join other world leaders in attending the state funeral in London of Charles’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on a date yet to be confirmed, but likely to be Monday 19 September.

Biden was the 13th US president to meet with Queen Elizabeth II — and will likely now be the first to meet with King Charles III. Both men late in life assumed a role they spent decades hoping for, bringing experience after having served as an understudy. https://t.co/8qIJrBWCRw

— Matt Viser (@mviser) September 9, 2022

Viser notes that Biden was the 13th US president to meet the Queen, and will likely become the first to meet with King Charles after his accession.

“Both are men who late in life assumed a role they had spent decades positioning themselves for, and who took their positions with a deep well of experience after having served as an understudy. They also arguably capture less of the public’s fascination than their predecessors,” he writes.

You can read the article here.

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

When the far-right firebrand Steve Bannon was hit with fresh fraud charges for an alleged border wall fundraising scheme, he joined the ranks of several close Donald Trump cronies recently prosecuted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

In 2019, then district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr brought mortgage fraud charges against Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman. And in 2021, the current district attorney, Alvin Bragg, charged the former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg with fraud, and Ken Kurson with felony cyberstalking, in separate cases.

Alvin Bragg.
Alvin Bragg. Photograph: Alex Kent/AFP/Getty Images

Put together the cases suggest that the actions of some top Trump allies can still generate legal headaches long after Trump left the White House and also despite being issued pardons.

Charges do not necessarily lead to convictions, of course, let alone hard prison time, as evidenced by the outcome of these past cases. Manafort, who was convicted in federal court before the New York case unfolded, ultimately didn’t face state charges on double-jeopardy grounds. Manafort was pardoned by Trump about two months before the decision came down that he couldn’t be tried in state court due to double jeopardy.

Kurson – who was first charged in Brooklyn federal court for cyberstalking, but pardoned by Trump before he left office – pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was ordered to do community service in his state case. Weisselberg, meanwhile, is expected to serve just 100 days in local jail under his plea deal.

On the surface, some might wonder whether Bannon’s state-level case has the same legal weakness as Manafort’s did. Bannon was charged federally in August 2020 for allegedly siphoning more than $1m from the “We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign. Trump also pardoned Bannon before his case went to trial.

But longtime attorneys told the Guardian that Bragg’s Bannon case was different from Vance’s Manafort prosecution because when Bannon was pardoned, state-level charges for the same alleged misconduct do not carry the same double-jeopardy risks, they said.

Read the full story:

Justice department says documents ‘critical’ to national security

The justice department’s legal filing is expected sometime today expanding its arguments why district court judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, must reverse her decision appointing a “special master” in the case of the former president’s hoarding of classified materials at his Florida residence.

In a strongly-worded notice of intent to appeal submitted on Thursday, department lawyers let Cannon know in no uncertain terms that her decision was impeding the progress of an investigation critical to national security.

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The lawyers made clear it needed access back immediately to classified documents seized last month at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion by FBI agents, while Trump’s attorneys are claiming he is entitled to have sent back to him everything that was taken away.

The inquiry took on added poignancy this week when it was reported that another country’s nuclear secrets was among the stash of highly classified documents Trump is said to have hidden from federal agents.

The department will make its own arguments, but we couldn’t explain things any better than Politico Playbook likening Trump to a jewel thief demanding the return of his ill-gotten gains:

Imagine that someone allegedly stole a sack of diamonds from a jewelry shop and then stashed the gems in junk drawers around their house. The cops raid the place, take away everything in the drawers where they find stolen diamonds, and spend two weeks separating them from the junk.

Then a judge comes along and says that the big issue in the case isn’t the stolen diamonds but that the cops still have some of the alleged thief’s personal belongings. She halts the heist investigation until an outside expert can sort the gems from the junk.

The government thinks the judge’s decision is absurd – no other suspect has received this special treatment – but they offer the judge a compromise: let us keep all of the diamonds, and we’ll return all of the alleged thief’s junk, even a few cheap watches that they think he might have swiped from the store.

Also today, the justice department and Trump’s legal team were due to jointly file a list of possible candidates to serve as the “special master” to review the records seized by the FBI.

We’ll bring you news on both fronts as we get it.

Read more:

DoJ lawyers aim to regain access of Trump files

Good morning, it’s Friday, and welcome to our US politics blog.

An unusually busy week has plenty more to offer, including the justice department spelling out today in a legal filing its arguments for regaining access to highly classified documents seized in an FBI search of Donald Trump’s Florida mansion.

Department lawyers on Thursday said they would appeal the ruling by district judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a “special master” in its investigation of the former president’s improper hoarding of confidential materials – including another nation’s nuclear secrets – at his residence, arguing her decision was blocking an inquiry critical to national security.

They’ll flesh out their arguments in today’s expected legal filing, and Trump’s lawyers will have until Monday to respond. But it’s already evident the justice department is playing hardball. We’ll have more analysis coming up.

The White House, meanwhile, announced that Joe Biden would join other world leaders at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London, expected to be on Monday 19 September.

Here’s what else we’re watching today:

  • Joe Biden is heading for Ohio and the groundbreaking for a new Intel factory, where he’ll deliver remarks on the Chips Act at 12.15pm.

  • There’s no scheduled White House media briefing, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a “gaggle” for reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio.

  • Vice-president Kamala Harris is in Houston to talk to astronauts aboard the international space station, and chair a meeting of the National Space Council this afternoon.

  • It’s a day off and a long weekend for both the US House and Senate, so we’re not expecting big news out of Congress.