The federal investigation of top-secret documents taken from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Fla., home will no longer be overseen by a “special master,” under a Thursday ruling from a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
The decision marks a victory for the Justice Department, which had been fighting against a district judge’s fall decision to appoint the special master.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals spiked that ruling Thursday.
“The law is clear,” the appellate judges wrote. “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.”
Judges William Pryor, Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher decided the case. Grant and Brasher were both appointed by Trump, while Pryor was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The Justice Department is investigating if Trump illegally kept classified documents at his private Mar-a-Lago residence after leaving office. The probe exploded into public view when FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.
The following month, Judge Aileen Cannon brought in a special master as the feds sought to review more than 10,000 items. Trump’s lawyers had insisted the former president was entitled to a special master to ensure the review of the documents would be neutral.
“The district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case,” the appellate judges wrote in Thursday’s order. “For that reason, we vacate the September 5 order on appeal and remand with instructions for the district court to dismiss the underlying civil action.”
With News Wire Services