A member of the Secret Service is seen outside former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on August 9, 2022.
Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images
A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned a judge’s decision to appoint a guard dog known as a special guard to review thousands of documents seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence as part of a criminal investigation.
“This appeal requires that we consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to prevent the United States from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation,” wrote a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in his decision.
“The answer is no,” the panel wrote.
All three judges on the panel were installed there by Republican presidents. Trump appointed Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher, while Chief Judge Bill Pryor was appointed by George W. Bush.
Her ruling could speed up the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump over his removal of documents from the White House and sending them to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. By law, these documents — more than 100 of which have been marked confidential, secret, or top secret — belong to the federal government.
On Nov. 18, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as the special counsel for this investigation, which also focuses on whether Trump and others obstructed justice in the months the federal government tried to restore pre-raid records.
The DOJ appealed the appointment of the special master at Trump’s request in September by Judge Aileen Cannon in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Cannon was benched by Trump.
Cannon had authorized Special Master Chief U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie of federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to restrict Mar-a-Lago’s seized property to “personal effects and documents and possibly privileged material subject to counsel’s claims review and/or executive privilege.”
Cannon also temporarily blocked the DOJ from reviewing or using the seized documents for its investigations while Dearie’s review was pending.
The DOJ said the order was not warranted under the law.
The Aug. 8 raid in Mar-a-Lago was conducted after another judge signed a search warrant that determined there was a probable reason FBI agents would find evidence of a crime at the property.
In its 21-page decision Thursday, the 11th District Panel said Cannon wrongly allowed an outside party to delay the DOJ’s investigation.
“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows a subject of a search warrant to block a government investigation after the warrant has been executed,” the panel wrote.
“Nor can we write a rule that only allows past presidents to do this,” the panel wrote.
“Any approach would be a radical reshuffle of our jurisprudence that limits the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate fundamental limitations on the separation of powers. Accordingly, we agree with the Government that the District Court failed to exercise equitable jurisdiction properly. and that the entire proceeding must be discontinued.”
The ruling said there was only one possible justification for Cannon appointing the special master under a concept known as fair jurisdiction.
That justification would be the fact that Trump “is a past President of the United States,” the appeals committee noted.
However, the panel immediately added: “It is indeed exceptional for an arrest warrant to be executed in the home of a former president – but not in a way that would affect our legal analysis or otherwise allow the judiciary to delve into an ongoing investigation.” interfere.”
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