US challenges Trump special master review in Supreme Court

Justice Department asks top court to block review of more than 100 classified documents due to national security concerns

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The US Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to not allow an outside review of sensitive government material in the battle over classified documents found at the Florida home of former president Donald Trump.

"This application concerns an unprecedented order by the district court restricting the executive branch’s use of its own highly classified records in an ongoing criminal investigation and directing the dissemination of those records outside the executive branch for a special-master review," the Justice Department's filing with the Supreme Court reads.

Mr Trump last week filed an emergency request in the country's top court to allow the special master, District Judge Raymond Dearie, an independent third party assigned in overseeing the case, to look at highly sensitive material the FBI found during an August search at his Mar-a-Lago home.

Mr Dearie is assigned to reviewing the more than 11,000 documents the FBI obtained and the current dispute is over whether about 100 documents with classified markings should be included.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals barred Mr Dearie from reviewing the documents in a late September ruling.

Mr Trump's team is arguing for the Supreme Court to grant a stay as response to that ruling, while the Justice Department says a such move would harm the country.

The US government is investigating Mr Trump and his team over possible breaches of federal laws, including espionage, in obtaining and mishandling government documents after his presidency ended in 2021.

The Justice Department heavily referred to the appeals court ruling in its defence that allowing classified documents in the special master review would risk national security.

A Trump-appointed judge's order approving a special master and his review of classified documents was found to be "a serious and unwarranted intrusion on the executive branch’s authority to control the use and distribution of extraordinarily sensitive government records", the Justice Department wrote.

"As the court explained, 'allowing the special master and [applicant’s] counsel to examine the classified records' would irreparably injure the government," it said of the appeals court's ruling.

The US Supreme Court can file a decision to these emergency filings any time.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 10:24 PM