In the US, a federal judge has granted a request by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint an independent arbitrator to review documents previously seized during a raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Trump has won an important blow with the decision of Judge Eileen Gannon, who will be appointed as a judge in the state of Florida in 2020. As the former president wanted, the investigation into the documents Trump took from the White House after his term is over has now been delayed. Various US media have reported that the US Department of Justice should immediately stop investigating the documents.
The Justice Department had earlier adamantly resisted the former president’s request. According to the ministry, he cannot claim such privilege as the documents are not his but belong to the government. “He’s no longer the president,” senior counterintelligence attorney Jay Pratt told Cannon during the Sept. 1 hearing. “Since he is no longer the president, he has no right to take those documents with him.”
There is no point in the Justice Department appointing a special master because its filtering panel — a group of agents who are not part of the investigation — has finished its work. Trump has previously accused the Justice Department of unleashing a political witch hunt against him. His lawyers argued that appointing an independent third party to review the matter would be an important check on the government.
Trump is under investigation for taking government documents, some of which are classified as “top secret,” after he left the White House and stored them at his home on his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
The Justice Department said it was investigating possible sanctions. The FBI says it has evidence that Trump’s team may have intentionally withheld classified documents. After the FBI recovered approximately 33 boxes containing more than 11,000 government documents and photographs and more than 100 classified documents, Trump representatives falsely claimed that they had carefully investigated and returned all classified documents to the government.
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