The independent arbiter tasked with inspecting documents seized in an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home said Tuesday he intends to push briskly though the review process and appeared skeptical of the Trump team’s reluctance to say whether it believed the records had been declassified.
US Department of Justice
The Justice Department said Thursday that it was appealing a judge’s decision granting the appointment of an independent arbiter to review records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.
The order came over the strenuous objections of the Justice Department, which said a so-called special master was not necessary in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. The move was cheered by Trump supporters seeking a check on the government’s probe.
The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.
The filing from the department follows a judge’s weekend order indicating that she was inclined to grant the Trump legal team’s request for a special master who would oversee the review of documents taken during the Aug. 8 search of the Mar-a-Lago estate.
The directive from U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart came hours after federal law enforcement officials submitted under seal the portions of the affidavit that they want to keep secret as their investigation moves forward. The judge set a deadline of noon Friday for a redacted, or blacked-out, version of the document.
Thursday’s prime-time hearing will open with eyewitness testimony from the first police officer pummeled in the mob riot and from a documentary filmmaker tracking the extremist Proud Boys, who prepared to fight for Trump immediately after the election, and led the storming of the Capitol.
The charges against members of the angry pro-Trump mob range from low-level misdemeanors for those who only entered the Capitol to felony seditious conspiracy charges against far-right extremists. It’s the largest prosecution in the history of the Justice Department.
The frustration, anger and questions about the response from police grew deeper on Friday after authorities revealed that despite repeated 911 calls from students and teachers, the school district’s police chief had told more than a dozen officers to wait in a school hallway.
The first trial for one of the hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions begins this week, with jury selection starting Monday in the case against Guy Wesley Reffitt. The trial may be a bellwether for many other Capitol riot cases.
The Justice Department is launching an effort in Chicago and four other U.S. cities to reduce spiking gun violence by addressing illegal trafficking and prosecuting offenses that help put guns in the hands of criminals.
The Justice Department said Saturday that it no longer will secretly obtain reporters’ records during leak investigations, a policy shift that abandons a practice decried by news organizations and press freedom groups.
The Chicago Police Department has been operating under a consent decree since 2019. The order, which was prompted by the 2014 police murder of Laquan McDonald, is the first consent decree the department has faced. But it’s not the first attempt at police reform in Chicago.
Community activists and lawyers engaged in efforts to reform the Chicago Police Department have blasted Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD leadership for failing to move quickly on implementation of a court-mandated consent decree that is supposed to ensure change.
Nearly one-third of federal correctional officer jobs in the United States are vacant, forcing prisons to use cooks, teachers, nurses and other workers to guard inmates.
The Justice Department is sending a strong message about its priorities these days. In just over the past two weeks, it has opened investigations of police in Louisville, Kentucky and Minneapolis.