WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- In a blow to former President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court stopped a special master’s review of documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago.
- The court’s decision is a win for the Department of Justice which had objected to the appointment of the special master.
- Trump is under criminal investigation by the DOJ for his removal of government documents from the White House.
A federal appeals court on Thursday ended the third-party review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The decision is a major boost for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the federal government because they can now use the documents in the criminal investigation against the former president.
In the 21-page opinion from the 11th Court of Appeals, the three-judge panel wrote that Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for a special master in September, did not have the “jurisdiction to block the United States from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation.”
“The law is clear,” read the order. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”
Trump’s legal team had originally argued for the special master to protect the former president’s constitutional right to privacy. The DOJ, which is investigating if Trump violated federal law after taking classified documents from the White House after leaving office in January 2021, was granted access to some of the documents by the 11th Circuit in September.
In its opinion Thursday, the appeals court acknowledged that it was “indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president—but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation.”
Trump sought to challenge the approval of a warrant to search his home.
In August, FBI agents seized 11,000 documents at Mar-a-Lago as part of a criminal investigation for evidence of violations of the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice.
In a statement, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said the former president called the panel’s decision “procedural and based only on jurisdiction.”
“The decision does not address the merits that clearly demonstrate the impropriety of the unprecedented, illegal, and unwarranted raid on Mar-a-Lago,” Cheung’s statement said.
Source: The Hill