DOJ says empty classified folders seized at Mar-a-Lago may indicate documents already 'compromised'
The U.S. Dept. of Justice Thursday afternoon is urging U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to impose a partial stay against her own ruling allowing Donald Trump the “special master” his legal team requested, warning that the dozens of empty folders that once held classified documents could indicate they have already been “compromised.”
Judge Cannon, who was nominated by Donald Trump in 2020, ordered a complete halt of any investigation that included the items seized during the search warrant execution on Mar-a-Lago on August 8, including the 100 or more classified documents.
The DOJ, represented by United States Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez and Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Chief Jay Bratt say in their 21-page motion that unless granted the requested stay “the government and the public would suffer irreparable harm.”
Referring to “the empty folders with ‘classified’ banners’ that were among the seized materials,” DOJ says the “FBI would be chiefly responsible for investigating what materials may have once been stored in these folders and whether they may have been lost or compromised,” which it calls “steps that…may require the use of grand jury subpoenas, search warrants, and other criminal investigative tools and could lead to evidence that would also be highly relevant to advancing the criminal investigation.”
They add, “in order to assess the full scope of potential harms to national security resulting from the improper retention of the classified records, the government must assess the likelihood that improperly stored classified information may have been accessed by others and compromised.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti calls it “a savvy move by DOJ.”
National security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler observes, “ implicit to this comment is there’s not a ready innocent explanation to 90 empty folders. They’re not the unfoldered docs returned in January.”
DOJ has also filed a notice of appeal.
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