Appeals Court Sides With DOJ Against Trump Over Classified Documents
FBI agents searched Trump’s home in August.
Agents found roughly 100 classified documents.
The DOJ appealed a ruling by a district judge so it could continue its investigation.
A federal appeals court handed prosecutors a victory.
(NewsReady.com) – Former President Donald Trump is locked in a battle with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its raid of his Florida estate. In August, the FBI served a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago home, looking for records that belong to the US government. During the search, federal agents found numerous classified and top-secret documents.
Trump sued the DOJ, claiming the department took personal documents subject to attorney-client privilege. Now, the former POTUS has lost one of the battles against the feds in an appeals court.
Earlier this month, US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon appointed a special master to review all of the documents seized by the FBI. The DOJ asked that the classified documents be exempt from the ruling so it could complete its criminal investigation into Trump for possible violations of the Espionage Act. Also, the country’s top prosecutors argued the documents were so sensitive, only people with a need-to-know should view them.
Cannon rejected the DOJ’s request and prohibited the authorities from continuing their investigation until the special master was through with his review. Federal prosecutors filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and asked the judges to issue a stay for the part of Cannon’s ruling related to the classified documents. A three-judge panel, including two appointed by Trump and one appointed by former President Barack Obama, has now ruled.
Court Stays Lower Court Ruling
On Wednesday, September 21, the three-judge panel ruled Cannon abused her “discretion in exercising jurisdiction … as it concerns the classified documents.” The judges addressed claims by the former president that he declassified the documents in question while he was in office, saying he “fails to represent, much less show, that he actually took that step.” They called the entire question about classification a “red herring” because, even if it was proven he did, indeed, declassify the docs, there is “no justification for restricting the government’s use of evidence.”
The judges also rejected Trump’s lawyer’s claims the 11th Circuit didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. They noted Cannon decided the former president had an interest in some of the documents the FBI seized. However, the panel determined those concerns did not “apply to the roughly one-hundred classified documents,” and the district judge failed to mention why Trump had “an individual interest in or need for the classified documents.”
Trump can now appeal the ruling to the full 11th Circuit Court.
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