US Department of Justice and Trump team at odds over petty officer appointment and special duties

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 3, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department and Donald Trump’s lawyers are vying with different candidates to serve as a special master to review files the FBI seized from the former president’s estate in Florida, have The two sides said Friday, and they disagree on whether classified documents should be excluded from review.

In a joint filing on Friday evening, the US Department of Justice told US District Judge Aileen Cannon that Trump’s legal team is insisting that the special master be allowed to review “all documents seized, including documents bearing classification marks”.

Trump’s attorneys also want the special master, an independent third party, to review the records for possible claims of executive privilege — a mandate the department opposes.

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The two sides also each offered two different sets of possible candidates for the job, though they said they intended to brief the court on their views on the other’s slate of nominees by Monday.

The Justice Department has announced that it is nominating two candidates for the post of special master: retired Judge Barbara Jones, who previously served as special master in cases involving two of Trump’s former lawyers, or Judge retired Thomas Griffith.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, nominated former Justice Raymond Dearie and Paul Huck, Florida’s former deputy attorney general.

The filing came after Cannon, a Trump appointee in Fort Pierce, Fla., ordered the appointment of a special master arbitrator on Monday, granting a request by Trump.

After the Justice Department warned late Thursday that it could slow the government’s efforts to determine whether classified documents were still missing, Cannon said in a court filing that she was willing to consider limiting the role of the special master to that this person does not examine classified documents.

Trump is being investigated for keeping government files, some of which have been marked as highly classified, at his Palm Beach, Florida home after leaving office in January 2021. The government is also investigating a possible obstruction of the investigation.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Eric Beech and Caitlin Webber; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell

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