WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A federal appeals court on Wednesday granted the Department of Justice access to classified documents seized from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
- This will allow DOJ officials to continue reviewing the documents for possible criminal charges.
- The court panel was comprised of two judges appointed by Trump and one who was appointed by former President Obama.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday granted the Department of Justice’s request to continue its review of classified documents seized by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
The court panel was comprised of two judges appointed by Trump and one who was appointed by former President Barack Obama. The three judges indicated in their opinion that there appeared to be no evidence that Trump declassified the documents while he was still president. They added that Trump’s lawyers “resisted” providing any evidence that he did so using official channels.
The judges also questioned why Trump would “have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings.”
“Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents,” they wrote in the opinion.
The three judges noted the DOJ’s argument that the lower court “erred in exercising its jurisdiction to enjoin the United States’s use of the classified records in its criminal investigation and to require the United States to submit the marked classified documents to a special master for review.”
“We agree,” the appellate judges wrote.
In their opinion, the three judges also allowed a review by a special master appointed by a federal judge in Florida to continue simultaneously. The Justice Department also appealed that appointment but eventually agreed to one of the Trump team’s candidates for the position, Judge Raymond Dearie, who is currently serving in the role.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had temporarily barred DOJ investigators from using the documents in its probe weighing whether to bring criminal charges against Trump that involve possible violations of the Espionage Act as well as other federal decrees.
On Friday, The Justice Department asked the court for access to classified documents seized from Trump’s estate on August 8. The DOJ appealed a lower court ruling that has prohibited prosecutors from using those records while investigating Trump’s ‘mishandling’ of government documents.
DOJ officials said in a court motion that the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago include highly sensitive documents and that prohibiting prosecutors access to those records would hinder their investigation at a heightened risk to national security.
In a hearing Tuesday before Judge Dearie, Trump’s legal team failed to provide evidence the former president declassified any of the documents.
Source: USA Today