US appeals court says Trump criminal investigation can reopen secret records review

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WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department can once again review classified tapes seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home. Mishandled or compromised.

The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by federal prosecutors to block U.S. District Judge Eileen Cannon from using classified documents in their trial until an independent arbitrator, known as a special master, can review the declassified materials. considered privileged and withheld from investigators.

The appeals court also said it agreed to reverse a portion of the lower court’s order requiring the state to turn over records with classification marks for special master’s review.

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“We conclude that the United States will suffer irreparable harm from the district court’s restrictions on access to this narrow and potentially sensitive material and from the court’s requirement that the United States submit classified records to the special master. Reconsideration,” the three-judge panel wrote.

The panel wrote that the decision was “limited in nature” because the Justice Department had only asked for a partial stay pending an appeal, and the panel could not determine the merits of the case.

The three judges who made the decision were Robin Rosenbaum, a Democrat appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Britt Grant and Andrew Presser, both appointed by Trump.

Trump’s lawyers may ask the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 6-3 conservative majority includes three of his appointees, to intervene in the matter.

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In Tuesday’s filing, Trump’s lawyers urged the court to stay and allow the special master, under the supervision of U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Deary, to review all seized materials, including those marked classified.

A Justice Department spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Trump’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

In an interview on Fox News Wednesday night, Trump repeated his claim without evidence that he classified the documents and said he had the authority to do so “just by thinking about it.”

On August 8, the FBI conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s home at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. More than 11,000 documents were seized.

The search was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump, who left office in January 2021 after losing his 2020 re-election bid, illegally removed documents from the White House and tried to obstruct the investigation.

At Trump’s request, Cannon, a Trump appointee, appointed Deary to serve as special master in the case, over the Justice Department’s objections to a special master.

Cannon tasked Deary with reviewing all material, including classified, so that he could separate out anything covered by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege — a legal doctrine that protects certain White House communications from disclosure.

However, Trump’s lawyers have not made such claims in any of their legal filings, and during Tuesday’s hearing before Deary, they resisted his request to provide proof that Trump classified any records. read more

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Although the appeals court insisted its ruling was narrow in scope, it slammed Cannon’s ruling from top to bottom and many of Trump’s legal arguments.

“[Trump]”He has not attempted to show that he had a need to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the judges wrote. “Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that need for these documents.”

The Justice Department previously raised strong objections to Cannon’s request that Deary review the seized records for documents covered by executive privilege, noting that Trump is a former president and that the records do not belong to him.

However, the Justice Department did not appeal that part of Cannon’s order, even though it voiced its dissent. It is unclear whether the prosecutors will have to appeal separately against other parts of Canon’s ruling on the appointment of a special master.

“We decide only on traditional equitable considerations, including whether the United States has shown a substantial preponderance of the merits, the potential harm to each party from the stay, and where the public interest lies,” the appeals court said.

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Sarah N. The Lynch Report; Additional reporting by Eric Beach, Mike Scarcella and Jacqueline Thompson; Editing by Leslie Adler & Sri Navaratnam

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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