DOJ CAN continue to probe classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago 

DOJ CAN continue to probe classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as appeals court stacked with Trump appointees rules against ex-president

  • A federal appeals court is allowing Justice Department lawyers to continue looking at the documents marked as classified 
  • Documents were taken from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago during the August raid
  • It’s unclear if Trump will appeal the ruling, which was a victory for the Justice Department and its investigation
  • Federal court that made ruling was stacked with judges appointed by Trump 

A federal appeals court is allowing Justice Department lawyers to continue looking at the documents marked as classified that wore taken from Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago during the August raid.

The emergency ruling overturns a trial judge’s order over those documents that blocked federal investigators’ work on the documents.

It’s unclear if Trump will appeal the ruling, which was a victory for the Justice Department and its investigation into the records Trump took with him when he left the White House. 

The appeals panel ruled that Florida Judge Aileen Cannon erred when she prevented federal prosecutors from using the 100 documents that were marked as ‘classified.’ 

‘[Trump] has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents,’ the three-judge panel from the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 29-page decision. ‘Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents.’

The court that made the ruling was stacked with Donald Trump appointees. The former president appointed two out of three of the judges on the panel. The other was appointed by Barack Obama. But their decision was unanimous. 

‘It is self-evident that the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in ‘exceptionally grave damage to the national security,” the appeals court said.

‘Ascertaining that necessarily involves reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when, and deciding which (if any) sources or methods are compromised.’ 

A federal appeals court is allowing Justice Department lawyers to continue looking at the documents marked as classified that wore taken from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago during the August raid.

A federal appeals court is allowing Justice Department lawyers to continue looking at the documents marked as classified that wore taken from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago during the August raid. 

The department filed the appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals after another federal judge, Aileen Cannon, who sits in Florida, ruled against the government’s request to separate documents marked ‘classified’ from those being sorted through by the special master.

‘They’re panicking,’ Trump lawyer Alina Habba said.

‘This is what happens. This is not what the DOJ is supposed to do. This is not what the FBI is supposed to do. But that is what I think is happening.’

‘Now the Department of Justice filed this crazy raid, pretending it’s all these criminal actions, because it’s around the corner to November, and this is what we like to call an October surprise, which we’ve seen before,’ she said.

Documents seized during the search of Trump's estate on August 8 are pictured on August 30. Trump's lawyers have declined to say in legal filings whether Trump had ordered them declassified while he was in office and had the authority

Documents seized during the search of Trump’s estate on August 8 are pictured on August 30. Trump’s lawyers have declined to say in legal filings whether Trump had ordered them declassified while he was in office and had the authority

Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge, has been appointed as special master to oversee the Mar-a-Lago investigation. The Trump Team listed him as among two recommendations for the post. According to a report, they believed he was a skeptic of the FBI

Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge, has been appointed as special master to oversee the Mar-a-Lago investigation. The Trump Team listed him as among two recommendations for the post. According to a report, they believed he was a skeptic of the FBI

She was referring to the August 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. That came after correspondence between National Archives officials and Trump’s team went on for a year. Trump returned 15 boxes of material to the government in January 2022. A grand jury subpoenaed documents in May. A DOJ official collected more material in June. And then the FBI took additional boxes in the search.

DOJ says the FBI obtained about 100 classified documents in the search, for a total of about 300 documents marked classified from Trump’s Florida golf club.

Habba’s comments come after Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge who has been appointed as special master, grilled a team of four of his attorneys in a Brooklyn courthouse Tuesday over their refusal to back up claims that he declassified files when he left office. 

‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too,’ Judge Raymond Dearie said when the former president’s legal team repeatedly refused to back up the claims in a tense court hearing in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Dearie is tasked with reviewing a trove of government documents including information marked classified that FBI agents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

He was pressing Trump’s legal team with sharp questioning about whether they had evidence to back up the former president’s continued claims that he had declassified material when he left the White House.

His tough questions came as Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department try to work through how to sort through boxes of government material that were held at Trump’s club after Trump left office. 

Some legal experts have said Trump could be in legal jeopardy even if he had declassified all the material that has been uncovered, since the government is investigating possession and handling of national security information, which could apply even if it weren’t classified. 

Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge who has been appointed as special master, grilled Trump's lawyers at a Tuesday hearing

Raymond Dearie, a veteran New York judge who has been appointed as special master, grilled Trump’s lawyers at a Tuesday hearing

Trump lawyer Jim Trusty at one point said the lawyers were ‘not in a position’ to say whether Trump had declassified the documents until they could review them. 

‘You did bring a lawsuit,’ Dearie scolded him. 

Dearie also said that absent evidence from Trump’s lawyers, he would assume the document were classified as marked.

‘If the government gives me prima facia evidence that they are classified documents, and you don’t advance any claim of declassification, I’m left with a prima facia case of classified documents, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it,’ he said.

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