On Thursday, a federal appeals court halted a former Brooklyn federal judge’s review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate after a raid by FBI agents in August.
The panel of three judges ruled unanimously that Aileen Cannon, a federal judge from Florida, had made a mistake in appointing Raymond Dearie to study the seized documents for privileged information despite objections from Biden’s Justice Department.
“The law is clear,” the judges also said. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”
The Sept. 5 order from Cannon slowed down the probe into Trump’s possible violation of federal law in retaining sensitive records after removing presidential papers and other documents, some of which were reportedly marked as classified, to his home in Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House in January 2021.
Trump and his legal team had pushed for a review, arguing that it was needed to screen material covered by executive or attorney-client privilege. Cannon ruled in his favor, ordering the DOJ to stop using the seized documents as part of its criminal investigation until Dearie’s review was completed.
The judges, however, found that Cannon had no authority to appoint the special master. The order represents a huge win for federal prosecutors, who now have access to the entire inventory of documents seized during the FBI raid.
“It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,” the judges wrote, according to the AP.
The victory comes after they had first sought to regain access to classified documents, successfully doing so in September when a federal appeals panel sided with prosecutors, permitting the Justice Department to resume its review of documents with classification markings.
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