The US Department of Justice may continue its investigation of the classified documents found during a search of Mar-a-Lago, the estate of former President Donald Trump in Florida. A federal judge has ruled that, US media reports.
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Another judge, still appointed by Trump, had blocked the investigation until an independent arbitrator (special master) was given a chance to review the more than 11,000 government documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Some of those documents have the highest level of secrecy. The former president later said that he had released the documents in question and was therefore allowed to take them with him.
Pending the decision of the arbitrator appointed last week, former judge Raymond Dearie, the Justice Department can now continue its investigation.
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According to the law, material found during the search should have been given to the National Archives. Incumbent presidents have far-reaching powers to release information and break secrecy. However, there is usually a formal and multi-step process for document release.
In addition, a president must break secrecy during his term in office. It is unclear whether the documents went through the declassification process.
Earlier this week, Dreerie had urged Trump’s attorneys to communicate clearly and provide evidence of the secrecy status of the seized documents.
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The Trump criminal investigation will include whether confidential papers were withheld and whether an attempt was made to thwart a federal investigation.