- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the legal fight over classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence.

In a 296-page filing, Mr. Trump‘s legal team asked Justice Clarence Thomas to issue an emergency order that would restore a so-called special master’s authority to review roughly 100 documents found at Mar-a-Lago with classified markings.

Justice Thomas is the judge who receives Supreme Court emergency requests out of Florida. Although it is unclear if he will act alone or refer the petition to the full court.

If granted, it would bolster Mr. Trump‘s effort to keep those documents out of the hands of investigators examining whether he criminally mishandled government materials.

A three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled that the special master, a retired judge who is tasked with determining which documents are protected by attorney-client and executive privilege, could only review a limited set of seized materials.

In filings with the high court, Mr. Trump‘s lawyers argued that the 11th Circuit’s ruling violated legal precedents.

“This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing time-sensitive work of the special master,” they wrote. “Moreover, any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice.”

Mr. Trump’s team also said that the 11th Circuit didn’t have the authority to restrict U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who was appointed as a special master, from reviewing the documents.

“The Eleventh Circuit granted a stay of the Special Master Order, effectively compromising the integrity of the well-established policy against piecemeal review without justification,” they wrote.

In last month’s ruling, the three-judge panel, which included two judges nominated by Mr. Trump and one by President Obama, rejected Mr. Trump’s claims that classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago may belong to him rather than the government.

The appellate court also allowed the Justice Department to access the seized documents for its criminal probe of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump asked the Supreme Court to ensure the special master will review those documents, but did not request the court restore the hold that blocked the Justice Department from accessing the documents during its investigation.

His legal team disputed the Justice Department’s claims that including the documents in the special master review could put the U.S.’ sensitive security secrets at risk.

“The government argued on appeal without explanation that showing the purportedly classified documents to Judge Dearie would harm national security,” they wrote, adding that the position “cannot be reconciled” with the Justice Department saying it could show those documents to a grand jury or potential witnesses during interviews.

Mr. Trump would need five justices to agree with him to get an emergency order. Although the court has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices Mr. Trump appointed, he has had a spotty record before the nation’s highest court.

In 2021 the Supreme Court turned away Mr. Trump’s legal challenge to overturn the results of the previous year’s presidential election. The high court also rejected Mr. Trump’s efforts to shield his financial records from Congress. In January, the court denied Mr. Trump’s attempt to stop White House documents from being turned over to the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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