(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge denied the US Justice Department's request to resume using documents with classified markings seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate while awaiting a neutral third-party review.
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The government asked to keep using about 100 documents that it said featured classification labels in a probe into alleged mishandling of government records after the judge ordered that a special master be appointed and temporarily barred investigators from using the materials.
"The Court remains firmly of the view that appointment of a special master to conduct a review of the seized materials, accompanied by a temporary injunction to avoid unwarranted use and disclosure of potentially privileged and/or personal materials, is fully consonant with the foregoing principles and with the need to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under unprecedented circumstances," US District Judge Aileen Cannon said in her ruling Thursday.
The FBI searched Trump's Florida home Aug. 8 and seized more than 11,000 documents they said were government records taken from the White House.
The Justice Department appealed Cannon's Sept. 5 ruling and, in the meantime, asked her for a temporary stay regarding the smaller pool of documents that they say feature classified markings, including some with the highest top-secret classification. Cannon had allowed other federal authorities to continue reviewing the documents as part of an intelligence assessment, but DOJ argued that it wasn't possible to separate that process from the criminal investigation.
Trump's legal team opposed the temporary halt requested by the Justice Department, saying that there was "disagreement" about the classification status of the seized materials. They argued that a president has broad power to declassify information, but stopped short of repeating Trump's claim that even if the records had classified markings, it couldn't be illegal because he declassified them all.
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