Trump’s lawyers can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
A few months ago, U.S. District Judge Erin M. Cannon of Florida agreed to appoint Judge Raymond J. Deary of Brooklyn as special director to review documents, rejecting the Justice Department’s request that the president not retain executive power after he leaves office. The privilege argument. Cannon also noted that the FBI took some of Trump’s personal material, which was mixed with government documents.
But special master appointments are rare, and judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit expressed concern in oral arguments that Cannon’s decision sets a troubling precedent: Allowing the targets of search warrants into a courtroom and requesting that a special master can Interfering with executive branch investigations before an indictment is issued.
The justices did not back down from that position in a written opinion Thursday, saying they could not issue an order “permitting any search warrant subject to block a government investigation after the writ has been executed.”
“Nor can we make a rule that only former presidents are allowed to do so,” read Thursday’s submission. “Both approaches represent a radical reordering of our case law that limits federal court involvement in criminal investigations. Both would violate fundamental separation of powers restrictions.”
Read the Court of Appeal decision
During oral arguments, government prosecutor Sopan Joshi called the decision to appoint a special director an “aggression” against the executive branch.
But Trump’s lawyer, James Trusty, said the appointment of the special director general did not significantly impede the administration’s criminal investigation into potential mishandling of classified documents, obstruction and destruction of government property. Trusty said the Mar-a-Lago search was conducted on a “carte blanche” basis, with agents taking personal items, including golf shirts and photos of singer Celine Dion.
In the opinion, the judge struck down a core part of Trump’s legal team’s argument: that the Presidential Records Act allows Trump to classify presidential documents as personal, thus requiring a special director to determine whether personal documents should be available to investigators. Confidential.
While acknowledging that the search of the former president’s property was “truly extraordinary,” the justices said the fact would not “affect our legal analysis.”
Ultimately, the justices said the status of personal or presidential papers should not determine whether a special supervisor is needed. The warrant to search Mar-a-Lago has been properly approved by a judge; Trump’s legal possession of the seized documents could be assessed in future legal proceedings, the submission said.
“The magistrate decides this issue when granting the warrant. If the classification of these documents has legal implications in future proceedings, the issue can be raised at that time,” the submission reads. “All these arguments are sideshows.”
The panel included former Alabama Attorney General Judge William Pryor, who was nominated by President George W. Bush and who Trump considered for a Supreme Court appointment while in the White House. The other two judges on the jury, Andrew L. Brasher and Britt C. Grant, were nominated by Trump. They also participated in the three-judge panel that ruled against Trump earlier this fall on limited aspects of the special master appointment, restoring criminal investigators’ access to 103 documents marked as classified.
The Mar-a-Lago investigation is one of three criminal investigations involving Trump that have gained momentum over the past year. The Justice Department is also investigating the role of Trump and his allies in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, including possible involvement in the bloody riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 8. On February 6, 2021, Congressman and Vice President Mike Pence officially tallied President Biden’s electoral victory.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who recently appointed a special counsel to oversee both investigations, has said it is advisable to avoid justice as Trump launches a new White House bid and Biden says he also plans to run. It is important that any potential conflicts of interest arise.
Additionally, Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis (D) is investigating the role of Trump and his allies in trying to unseat Biden in the 2020 Georgia election.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.