Appeals court lifts hold that prevented Justice Department from using classified documents in Mar-a-Lago probe

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A federal appeals court said Wednesday that the Justice Department may resume its criminal investigation using classified documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida property.

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The Justice Department this month appealed a ruling by Trump-appointed US District Judge Ellen Cannon, which temporarily barred it from reviewing and using the seized material for investigation purposes.

The appeals court panel, which included two Trump appointees and an Obama appointee, outright rejected Trump’s position on classified documents and parts of Canon’s argument for issuing his original order. The appeals court said the factors in question were whether Trump had a personal interest or need for classified documents, which the district court did not mention in its analysis.


“The plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he needs to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the panel wrote in Wednesday’s opinion.

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Special Master casts doubt on declassification of documents shaped from Mar-a-Lago

September 21, 202203:38

The judges argued that some documents are considered classified because they contain information that could harm national security, and for this reason people can only have access if they need to know that information.

“This requirement pertains equally to former presidents, unless the current administration, in its discretion, chooses to waive that requirement,” he wrote, adding that Trump had not established that the Biden administration had filed documents. Forgive your need for.

Trump had previously claimed that he had declassified sensitive documents found at his Florida home, a claim that the special master appointed to review seized documents, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Deary, Trump’s lawyer. After refusing to identify any of the documents appeared suspicious. “defense of the merits of any subsequent indictment”.

The appeals court panel also rejected Cannon’s argument on Wednesday that his order would not come in the way of a risk assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, calling the distinction between a risk assessment and a criminal investigation “untenable.”

The Justice Department had argued that Canon’s order impeded the intelligence community’s ability to spot national security risks posed by improperly storing documents.

Canon said last week that it was not prepared to accept all of the department’s claims at face value without a special master review process.

But the appeals panel on Wednesday pushed back against that claim, arguing that nothing “beyond speculation” was offered to undermine the government’s sworn testimony that the criminal investigation’s findings would be subject to its national security review. can be important.

The Justice Department previously said its criminal investigation would look into identifying anyone with access to classified material, whether they were compromised and whether additional classified material was missing.

“It will be difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to answer these important questions if its criminal investigators are not allowed to review the classified material seized,” the appeals court wrote.

The appeals court’s decision on Wednesday was the second legal blow for Trump. Earlier in the day, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, his three eldest children, and the Trump Organization in connection with their years-long civil investigation into the company’s business practices.

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