A federal appeals court on Wednesday removed barriers to a Justice Department criminal investigation into documents discovered on the estate of former President Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago, saying investigators may still use some 100 classified files discovered in the investigation.
The decision was a huge win for the DOJ.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily overturned extracts from the ruling earlier this month from a Florida judge who had banned the government from using classified documents for investigative purposes pending review by an independent arbitrator.
In a 29-page ruling, an appeals panel of three judges wrote that there was a public interest in allowing the government to further investigate a treasure trove of confidential documents.
The panel stated in its contract that the government would be “difficult if not impossible” to answer critical questions without access to classified material and that it could not discern why Trump “would have an individual interest or need for any of a hundred classified documents.”
The original ruling came from Judge Aileen Cannon of the Federal District Court for the South Florida District – appointed by Trump in 2020 – and Wednesday’s decision ended a brutal day for the former president.
In the morning, the New York state attorney general sued Trump, accusing him and his associates of overstating his assets by billions of dollars.
In preparation for Cannon’s decision, the Justice Department investigated Trump’s dealings with secret government files that court documents said had been messed up in Mar-a-Lago with books, unclassified government material, and hundreds of press clippings.
The FBI uncovered files on August 8 during an unprecedented search of Trump’s mansion and clubhouse in Palm Beach, Florida.
At Cannon’s orders, the legal experts raised their eyebrows.
“The main point of the appeal is ultimately getting a rather inconsistent and poorly substantiated opinion on presidential prerogatives from the books,” NYU scientist Peter M. Shane said last week.
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