An appeals court sided with the Department of Justice Wednesday, allowing them to keep looking at “classified” materials seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
The DOJ had appealed a ruling from Judge Aileen Cannon that put the review on pause while a special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, reviewed the documents.
Cannon had declined the appeal, but after the federal appeal court’s ruling, the DOJ can go back to reviewing the roughly 100 documents with classification markings, and Dearie’s review now only consists of the rest of the seized materials.
The Eleventh Circuit Court argued that Trump has no evidence that he had declassified the materials while in office, and even if he had, he has no “explanation” why he has an “individual interest” in the materials with classification markings.
“Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President,” the court wrote in its opinion. “But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.”
The argument surrounding the declassification of the materials is a “red herring,” the court wrote, as whether the materials are declassified or not doesn’t “change its content or render it personal,” and would not explain why Trump has an interest in them.
The court also responded to the DOJ’s argument that the document pose a danger to national security in its opinion, stating that, “It is self-evident that the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in ‘exceptionally grave damage to the national security.’ Ascertaining that necessarily involves reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when, and deciding which (if any) sources or methods are compromised.”