By Zachary Stieber
The Supreme Court has told the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enter a response to former President Donald Trump after he asked the nation’s top court to vacate a partial stay against him in the Mar-a-Lago records case.
Justice Clarence Thomas directed DOJ lawyers to respond to Trump by 5 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Trump asked the Supreme Court to vacate a partial stay entered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The partial stay blocked U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, serving as a special master in the case, and Trump lawyers from viewing the records with classified markings that were seized by FBI agents from Trump’s Florida home in August. Additionally, the ruling enabled the government to resume using those records in its criminal investigation into Trump.
The application to the Supreme Court argued the first part of the order was improper because special master appointments are not appealable. They asked the court to act swiftly.
“This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master. 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,” Trump’s attorneys said.
They are not asking justices to rule against the other part of the appeals court order.
Thomas, a George H.W. Bush appointee, received the application because he oversees the 11th Circuit.
Each justice oversees one or more circuit courts. They have the authority to reject applications, grant them, or refer them to the full court for consideration.
For now, Dearie remains prevented from seeing the materials with classified markings.
Trump lawyers have already been reviewing some of the other documents taken by agents from Mar-a-Lago. They and the government were recently told by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee overseeing the case, to reach no later than Oct. 5 a contract with a vendor who will scan the documents and make them available in electronic form for parties to review.
After the attorneys review the documents and list which ones they believe are protected by privilege, Dearie will go over the assertions and recommend them to Cannon by Dec. 17.
Trump has said some of the materials are protected by attorney-client privilege and other forms of privilege, such as executive privilege. The government has said most of the documents are not protected, and that Trump cannot claim executive privilege because he is no longer in office.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, earlier in the week rejected a request in a different case to review the protocols of DOJ “filter teams,” which are inserted into sensitive cases to review seized documents and sift out those that may be protected by privilege.
Justices did not say why they rejected the request.