Mar-a-Lago: DOJ can resume criminal probe of classified documents, appeals court says

The emergency intervention overturns a trial judge’s order over those documents that blocked federal investigators’ work on the documents and is a strong rebuke of the Trump team’s attempt to suggest, without evidence, that materials were somehow declassified.

A special main review of this subset of about 100 records that would have allowed Trump’s legal team to see them is now partially halted. The special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, can continue his work reviewing the rest of the material seized at Mar-a-Lago to ensure records that belong to Trump or that he may be able to claim are confidential are not being used by Trump become investigators.

“It is understood that the public has a vested interest in ensuring that the preservation of the classified records has not resulted in ‘extraordinarily serious harm to national security,'” the three-member panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals stated. “Certainly, to determine this is to review the documents, determine who had access to them and when, and decide which (if any) sources or methods are compromised.”

Throughout the litigation, Trump’s attorneys have raised vague questions about whether the materials are in fact classified. But they have not directly claimed in court that the former president declassified them, although Trump himself has claimed so outside of court.

On Wednesday evening, the appeals court panel convened Trump’s legal team.

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“The plaintiff suggests that he may have released these documents when he was president,” the court wrote. “But the file contains no evidence that any of those files were released.

READ: Court of Appeals says DOJ may resume criminal investigation into classified documents found in Mar-a-Lago

Trump’s attorneys have also attempted to delay specific disclosures about whether the documents were declassified while the special master initially reviews the materials.

“The records’ classification marks establish that the records are government records and that responsible officials have previously determined that their unauthorized disclosure would cause harm to the security of the nation — including ‘exceptionally serious harm,'” prosecutors told the 11th Circuit in a communicated Tuesday night filing.

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The Justice Department had asked for the 11th Circuit’s intervention in the Mar-a-Lago documents dispute after Trump’s successful suing to secure the appointment of a special master — an independent attorney — to review the roughly 11,000 documents involved the FBI had received from Trump in his house search.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, the Florida judge who approved Trump’s bid for review, previously denied a Justice Department request to stay the portions of her order relating to the 100 documents identified as classified.

None of the three criminal statutes the FBI cited when it received the Mar-a-Lago search warrant depend on the classified materials, the DOJ argued.

In an attempt to resume its criminal investigation into the documents, the Justice Department argued that Cannon’s order prevented investigators from taking steps to assess and mitigate national security risks arising from handling the documents.

Cannon said a national security assessment of the materials being conducted by the intelligence community could proceed. However, the Justice Department argued that this assessment could not be decoupled from the criminal investigation.

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Not Trump’s records

The 11th Circle firmly rejected Trump’s arguments that he might have an interest in secret records that could protect them from federal detectives.

Trump “has no title to the documents in question, so he suffers no apparent harm from the United States reviewing documents that he does not own or have a personal interest in.” Second, we find plaintiff’s allegation that he would be harmed unconvincing by a criminal investigation,” they wrote.

“Due to the nature of the classified materials at issue here, and based on the Records, we have no reason to believe that use of these Records by the United States would create any risk of disclosure of Complainant’s confidential information to the United States.” , write .

This story has been updated with additional details.

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