US court says Trump criminal investigation could resume review of classified files

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Written by Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice can resume reviewing classified records seized by the FBI at the Florida home of former President Donald Trump, pending an appeal, a federal court ruled on Wednesday. Investigate whether records have been mishandled or compromised.

The Atlanta-based US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has granted a request from federal prosecutors to block the suspension of District Judge Eileen Cannon.

The judge forbade them from using classified documents in their investigations until an independent arbitrator, called a private tutor, would examine the material to remove those that could be considered private, and which the investigators would not have access to.

The appeals court also said it agreed to reverse part of a lower court order requiring the government to turn over records with hashtags for private review by Mr.

“We conclude that the United States would be irreparably harmed by the District Court’s restrictions on its access to this narrow – and potentially critical – collection of material, as well as the Court’s requirement that the United States turn over confidential records to a private master for review,” The three-judge panel wrote.

The commission added that the decision was “limited in nature” because the Justice Department only requested a partial stay pending appeal, and that the commission could not decide on the merits of the case itself.

The oath’s request to the court did not seek to overturn Cannon’s order itself, and it is not clear whether prosecutors might seek to appeal other parts of Cannon’s ruling on the special tutor’s appointment separately.

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“We decide only traditional considerations of fairness, including whether the United States has demonstrated a high probability of winning on the merits, the harm each party may suffer from the stay, and where the public interest lies,” the appeals court said.

The three judges who made the decision are Robin Rosenbaum, who was appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama, and Brett Grant and Andrew Brasher, both of whom were appointed by Trump.

Trump’s lawyers could ask the US Supreme Court, whose conservative 6-3 majority includes three judges appointed by him, to consider the matter.

Trump’s lawyers, in their filings on Tuesday, urged the court to uphold the stay and allow them, under the supervision of Judge Raymond Deere, to review all seized materials, including those marked confidential.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice did not immediately comment. Trump’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The FBI conducted a court-approved search on August 8 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, seizing more than 11,000 documents, including about 100 classified signs.

The research was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed White House documents when he left office in January 2021 after his failed 2020 re-election bid and attempted to obstruct the investigation.

Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge, appointed Derry to be a special master in the case at Trump’s request. The Ministry of Justice had opposed the appointment of a private teacher.

Cannon has tasked Deere with reviewing all material, including confidentiality, so that he can separate anything that may be subject to attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, a legal principle that protects certain White House communications from disclosure.

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As one of his defenses, Trump claimed in social media posts, without evidence, that he had declassified the records.

However, his attorneys did not make such allegations in any of his legal files, and during a hearing before Derry on Tuesday, they resisted his request to provide evidence that Trump declassified any records.

Although the appeals court stressed that its ruling was limited in scope, it sternly rebutted Cannon’s top-down ruling and many of Trump’s legal arguments.

“He did not even attempt to show that he needed to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the judges wrote. Nor has it been proven that the current government has waived this requirement for these documents.

The Justice Department has also previously raised strong objections to Cannon’s request that Deere review confiscated records for documents potentially covered by executive privilege, stating that Trump is a former president and that the records do not belong to him.

However, despite the disapproval, the Department of Justice did not appeal this part of Cannon’s order.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Eric Beach, Mike Scarcila and Jacqueline Thompson; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)

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