Donald Trump was handed what is being described as a “major defeat” on Thursday when the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s order appointing the special master to look through the 11,000 documents taken during the unprecedented FBI raid on the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
The appeal court’s decision to halt a decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the seized documents to determine what should be off limits to investigators “removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House,” CNN reported.
Court filings show that Trump, who is without a doubt the most persecuted American citizen in modern U.S. history, is being investigated by the Biden Department of Justice for obstruction of justice, criminal mishandling of government records and violations of the Espionage Act.
BREAKING: The 11th circuit has ruled that Judge Aileen Cannon’s order appointing a special master and blocking the gov from using classified docs seized from Mar-a-Lago in their investigations was incorrect. The order has been vacated with instructions to dismiss the entire case. pic.twitter.com/jPl3QMNasx
— Daniel Barnes (@dnlbrns) December 1, 2022
“The law is clear,” the appeals court wrote. “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.”
The panel said that either approach would be a “radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations,” according to CNN, and that “both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.”
The three-judge appeals panel, headed by Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr., a George W. Bush appointee Trump reportedly considered for the Supreme Court, said Cannon should not have intervened in the first place.
“It is 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,” the court said.
George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley said in an analysis of the ruling that it was predictable.
“The per curiam decision was not unexpected after an oral argument where the judges expressed great reservations over the rare appointment of a special master to review these documents by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon,” Turley wrote.
“Cannon was motivated by a number of factors, including the broad scope of the search,” he continued. “It allowed the seizure of any box containing any document with any classification of any kind — and all boxes stored with that box. It also allowed the seizure of any writing from Trump’s presidency.”
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