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US wins court order letting it use some Trump documents in probe

Joe Schneider, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

The U.S. Justice Department can use about 100 documents with classified markings seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in an ongoing criminal investigation and national security review, a federal appeals court said.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay Wednesday, pausing a federal judge’s order that barred the Justice Department from using the materials while a special master reviews about 11,000 documents taken by the FBI during an August search of the former president’s estate.

The government petitioned the Atlanta-based appeals court last week after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida denied its request to carve out the classified documents from a review by the special master. Justice Department lawyers contend the documents are critical to the investigation into whether Trump mishandled sensitive government records after he left office. Trump had urged the appeals court to keep Cannon’s order in place.

“We cannot discern why plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” a three-judge panel of the appeals court panel said in its ruling.

The panel comprised of Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum, an appointee of President Barack Obama, Judge Britt Grant and Judge Andrew Brasher, both Trump appointees, was unanimous in the decision.

 

The judges rejected suggestions that Trump had declassified the documents.

“The declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal,” the panel said. “So even if we assumed that plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.”

Trump can ask the full court of appeals to review the panel’s decision.

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