Why DOJ Wants a Faster Ruling in Appeal of Trump Special Master Review

The Department of Justice filed a request to expedite its appeal of a judge's order to allow a special master to review classified documents taken from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residency.

The request, filed on Friday to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, proposed an expedited schedule that would wrap up the written briefs by November 11 instead of the current deadline scheduled for a month later. The DOJ said that the independent special master review has hampered the department's own criminal investigation of the documents seized from the former president's Florida residence in August.

"An expedited appeal would serve the interests of justice," read the filing. "Based on the district court's orders thus far, the government is barred from accessing all of the materials except those with classification markings recovered in August pursuant to a lawful search warrant—and it may continue to be barred from doing so until mid-December or later."

Aerial View of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Estate
Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen on September 14, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida. The Department of Justice filed a request on September 30 to expedite its appeal of having a special master review documents that were seized in August from Mar-a-Lago. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The DOJ was granted an appeal from the court earlier in September for more than 100 documents marked as classified to be exempted from the special master review.

Expediting the appeal of the broader review—and winning the appeal—would give the DOJ access to all 11,000 documents as part of its investigation into how they were transferred, stored and who has accessed them.

Legal experts took to Twitter in light of the news to explain why the DOJ would be motivated to speed up the appeal process, and weighed in on why they think the department's arguments might be granted by the court.

Former appellate defender Teri Kanefield posted a thread to Twitter explaining why she believes the circuit court would be inclined to grant the request. Among Kanefield's arguments she noted that the court already gave a "shellacking" to Judge Aileen Cannon by blocking the special master review of specific classified documents.

The DOJ references in Friday's filing that the court had granted its order earlier in the month on the basis that the "injunction against the government's review" posed "real and significant harm on the United States and the public."

"Even if not to the same degree," continued the DOJ, "such harm persists with respect to the district court's injunction against the government's review and use of thousands of remaining documents and other material...."

The DOJ also argued in its filing that there is "good cause" to expedite the appeal, including that the request does not ask the court to "analyze an extensive factual record."

"Instead, this appeal presents two questions of law," wrote the DOJ. "Whether the district court erred by exercising equitable jurisdiction over [Trump's] motion, and whether the district court erred by granting a preliminary injunction barring the government from reviewing or using evidence seized... in an ongoing criminal investigation."

Kanefield added that if the DOJ is granted its request to expedite the process and goes on to win the appeal, "It was all a waste of Trump's money and the DOJ's time."

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti also weighed in on Twitter, saying that he believes Judge Cannon's recent decision to side with Trump in an argument between the former president and the special master played a role in the DOJ's decision to request an expedited appeal.

Mariotti added that it's hard to say if the appeals court will grant the request from the DOJ, but that the department's decision on the motion is "a good sign, and the DOJ is right to prefer them to Cannon."

The DOJ noted in its request that it had conferred with Trump's lawyer, Chris Kise, who said that Trump is opposed to the motion to expedite the process.

"It will be interesting to see what reasons Trump comes up with for needing more time, particularly because the DOJ is truncating its own timeframe," Kanefield noted on Twitter.

On his Truth Social account Friday, the former president referred to the "Document Hoax Lawsuit" as another "scam" from the DOJ and the FBI.

"Much like Russia, Russia, Russia, Impeachment hoax #1, Impeachment hoax #2, the Mueller Report, spying on my campaign, lying to the FISA Court, lying to Congress, illegally breaking into my home in Florida in violation of the Fourth Amendment and also violating the Presidential Records Act," Trump said in the post.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's team for comment.