Appeals court rules Trump-appointed judge ‘improperly’ ordered special master

BREAKING NEWS: Appeals court STOPS special master from reviewing Trump documents taken in Mar-a-Lago raid – in win for Justice Department

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a harsh rebuke to Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon, ordering she erred when she named a ‘special master’ to sort through government documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel halts the review of hundreds of classified and other documents seized during an FBI raid of the president’s private club amid a Justice Department probe. 

It constitutes a significant win for the Justice Department, whose lawyers bristled at the original decision and already succeeded in allowing the government to use seized classified documents in its ongoing investigation. 

 ‘The law is clear. 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,’ wrote the court.

President Donald Trump suffered another setback when the Appeals Court ruled against the order creating a 'special master' to review material seized from Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump suffered another setback when the Appeals Court ruled against the order creating a ‘special master’ to review material seized from Mar-a-Lago

It said to do so would ‘violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.

The court ruled that the district court judge ‘improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction,’ and dismissed the proceedings. 

Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and attacked the FBI search of his home as part of a ‘witch hunt’ against him. 

Judge Aileen Cannon was appointed by Trump and confirmed weeks before he left office

Judge Aileen Cannon was appointed by Trump and confirmed weeks before he left office

The search came after months of back-and-forth between Trump’s team and officials with the National Archives and Records Administration over materials removed from the White House when Trump left office.

The FBI ultimately raided the property in August after getting a court to sign off on a search warrant. 

Trump’s lawyers had argued that a special master was needed to sort through potential privilege claims – referencing both attorney-client privilege and executive privilege matters.

But the government was already sorting through materials to sift out any attorney-client materials, and the Justice Department said it was President Joe Biden who had the authority to assert privilege.

The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago under subpoena after obtaining a warrant

The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago under subpoena after obtaining a warrant

The FBI says it uncovered numerous documents marked 'classified' at the president's Florida club

The FBI says it uncovered numerous documents marked ‘classified’ at the president’s Florida club

FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago in search of government materials in August

FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago in search of government materials in August

Two of the judges on the three-judge panel had already ruled in the government’s favor. All were appointed by Republicans. 

Cannon had appointed New York senior judge Raymond Dearie to sort through the materials, and the work commenced even as the two sides battled over the decision in court.

That fight came after Trump sued in federal court in Florida.  Cannon also ruled that the feds couldn’t use the seized material in their investigation, pending the special master’s work. An Appeals Court panel ruled against that decision in September.

It was just the latest legal blow against Trump in recent days.

After a years-long legal saga, the House Ways and Means Committee finally obtained Trump’s tax return information this week, after the Supreme Court declined to intervene, allowing lower court rulings to stand. The panel now has six years of his returns.

Prosecutors made closing arguments in a suit against Trump and his company before a New York jury Thursday, saying his company ‘cultivated a culture of fraud and deception’ by handing out perks to mask their complete compensation. 

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