WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to block prosecutors from proceeding with their review of classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago social club this summer.
The former president, who attempted a coup to remain in power after losing reelection, is appealing a unanimous, three-judge decision from a federal appeals court in Atlanta, which last month overturned a ruling from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee whom he had specifically sought to preside over his case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Cannon erred when she stopped the Department of Justice from continuing its analysis of 103 documents, which were among 11,000 taken from the White House at the end of Trump’s presidency.
In a 276-page filing with the Supreme Court, Trump’s new lawyer, Christopher Kise, challenged the circuit court’s ruling.
“The government has attempted to criminalize a document management dispute and now vehemently objects to a transparent process that provides much-needed oversight,” Kise argued.
His primary argument is that 11th Circuit lacks the jurisdiction to overrule the particulars of Cannon’s order approving a “special master” and telling the DOJ to halt its criminal investigation until that review is finished.
But Kise couched it in terms that suggest the DOJ is acting out of malice or politics.
“The unprecedented circumstances presented by this case ― an investigation of the Forty-Fifth President of the United States by the administration of his political rival and successor ― compelled the District Court to acknowledge the significant need for enhanced vigilance and to order the appointment of a Special Master to ensure fairness, transparency, and maintenance of the public trust,” Kise wrote.
In a lengthy footnote, Kise added that the federal government is treating Trump dramatically differently than previous presidents, with whom the National Archives made agreements for document storage and cataloging.
“The government feigned concern about purported classified records to justify commencement of a criminal investigation (not even contemplated under the Presidential Records Act) and then raided President Trump’s personal residence (a secure compound protected by U.S. Secret Service agents and used during the Trump presidency to conduct the official business of the United States),” Kise wrote.
Kise, however, does not mention that Trump was the only president who has removed documents marked at the highest levels of classification, which, if disclosed, could compromise the lives of intelligence assets in other countries, as Trump is accused of doing in a DOJ filing.
It is unclear when and how the high court might act, although Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday evening set a 5 p.m. Oct. 11 deadline for the Department of Justice to file its response.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol ― his last-ditch attempt to remain in office ― led to the deaths of five people, including one police officer, the injury of 140 officers and four police suicides.
Nevertheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and is openly speaking about running for the presidency again in 2024.
In statements on his personal social media platform, Trump has continued to lie about the election and the Jan. 6 House select committee’s work, calling it a “hoax” similar to previous investigations into his 2016 campaign’s acceptance of Russian assistance and his attempted extortion of Ukraine into helping his 2020 campaign.