Appeals Court Dismisses Special Master Review in Trump Documents Case. On Thursday, a federal appeals court ended an external review of thousands of records the F.B.I. seized from Trump’s home, allowing the Justice Department to utilise them in its investigation into the former president’s unlawful hoarding of government information.
A three-person panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta issued a unanimous but unsigned 21-page ruling dismissing Mr Trump’s lawsuit that had slowed the investigation into whether he illegally kept national security records at his Mar-a-Lago residence and obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve them for nearly three months.
The appeals court had harsh words for Trump appointee and Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s decision to intervene in the case back in September. According to the court, there was no basis for treating Mr Trump differently from any other subject of a search warrant, and Judge Cannon never had valid jurisdiction to order the review or restrict investigators from utilising the information.
“It is obviously extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that changes our legal analysis or otherwise grants the judiciary authorization to participate in a continuing inquiry,” the court concluded.
When it comes to criminal investigations, the court’s hands are tied “regardless of who the government is investigating,” the document continued. That our laws should be applied “to all, without respect to quantity, wealth, or status” is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, and to make an exception, in this case, would be a violation of that principle.
On Thursday of next week, the panel’s decision will go into effect. The review by the independent arbiter, or special master, Raymond J. Dearie, a judge in the Eastern District of New York, would come to an abrupt conclusion if an appeal is not granted before that time. Mr Trump’s case would then need to be thrown out by Judge Cannon.
Further Information Regarding the Trump Administration’s Documents Investigation
A significant roadblock to the Justice Department’s probe has been removed as an appeals court halted a special master’s review of documents seized from former president Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Advised by a Special Counsel: Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor, was selected by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to lead the papers probe and the investigation into Mr Trump’s role in the attack on January 6.
The 2024 Election Season: The Justice Department is likely to decide whether to press charges against Mr Trump before the 2024 presidential campaign gets into full swing. Mr Trump’s plans regarding an appeal of the appeals court’s judgement were not immediately clear. When reached for comment, the former president’s legal team did not immediately react.
“This appeal requires us to consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to block the [Justice Dept.] from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation. The answer is no,” ruled the three-judge panel, which included 2 Trump appointees. https://t.co/Mdti7lzfPl
— Paul Farhi (@farhip) December 2, 2022
The Supreme Court unanimously denied Mr Trump’s plea to reverse the appeals court’s decision to remove 103 classified papers from Judge Cannon’s scrutiny. Judges Andrew L. Brasher, Britt Grant, and the third member of the panel who issued the ruling on Thursday were all appointed to their respective positions by Republican presidents, with Mr Trump personally appointing Judge Brasher.
According to a person familiar with the situation, the decision came after the chief federal judge of the Federal District Court in Washington ruled that the two top lawyers in Mr Trump’s White House, Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, must testify before a grand jury investigating Mr Trump’s role in various efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 2, 2022
The legal situation for Mr Trump is precarious on numerous fronts, and this is true even as he launches his third run for president. Jack Smith, a special counsel, is now in charge of two of the most important investigations, including one into Mr Trump’s efforts to maintain power beyond the 2020 election. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said nothing.
The decision made by the appeals court on Thursday was expected. The constitutionality of Judge Cannon’s extraordinary intervention was called into question during a hearing on November 22. On Thursday, the appeals court stated, “The law is plain.” After a search warrant has been executed, the subject cannot prevent further government inquiries by writing a rule to that effect.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ended an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, clearing the way for prosecutors to use as part of their investigation all materials taken from Mar-a-Lago. https://t.co/qJwOW6OXMP
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) December 1, 2022
We also can’t legislate that only previous presidents are eligible to run again. Judge Cannon, a relatively inexperienced jurist who found herself in the centre of a politically charged issue, was publicly humiliated by the verdict.
After only two years on the bench, she made headlines in September when she temporarily blocked the Justice Department from using any of the seized materials in its investigation of Mr Trump and appointed a special master to review the materials and make recommendations about the status of any documents over which the government and Mr Trump’s lawyers could not agree.
“Plaintiff’s counsel noted that the seized items included ‘golf shirts’ and ‘pictures of Celine Dion,’” the judges wrote. “While Plaintiff may have an interest in these items and others like them, we do not see the need for their immediate return…” https://t.co/Q5Hjz6FdW7
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 2, 2022
Judge Cannon’s selection of Judge Dearie was particularly uncommon because she gave him authority to review the documents not just for those protected by attorney-client privilege, which is quite frequent but also to examine allegations by Mr Trump that some were covered by executive privilege.
No president, living or dead, has ever been able to successfully use the executive privilege to prevent the Justice Department (also part of the executive branch) from accessing executive branch materials in a criminal investigation. But the appeals court did not address it because it halted Judge Cannon’s review on jurisdictional grounds.
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