Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Department of Justice
The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by former President Donald Trump to permit a so-called special master to review classified government documents that were seized from his Florida residence during an FBI raid in August.
Trump had asked the court to overturn a recent eleventh U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruling barred the special master from examining the greater than 100 classified records as a part of his broader review of greater than 11,000 government documents seized on the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
The appeals court said that subset of classified records could only be reviewed by the Department of Justice, which is conducting a criminal investigation of Trump for his removal of presidency documents when he left office in January 2021.
Trump’s lawyers last week told the Supreme Court in a filing that the appeals court’s ruling “impairs substantially the continuing, time-sensitive work of the special master,” who was appointed by a federal judge to look at all of the seized documents to see if any must be withheld from the DOJ to be used in its probe.
Those attorneys also argued that “any limit on the great and transparent review of materials seized within the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice.”
The DOJ had urged the Supreme Court to disclaim Trump’s appeal.
In a court filing Tuesday, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that Trump has “no plausible claims” to the classified records.
The Supreme Court, in its order Thursday, said, “The appliance to vacate the stay entered by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on September 21, 2022, presented to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.” There have been no dissents by any of the Supreme Court’s justices noted within the order.
Thomas has oversight over emergency appeals from the eleventh Circuit.
Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court was on a comparatively narrow issue and was not expected to affect any ultimate decision by DOJ on whether to file criminal charges against him or others.
Even when he had prevailed, the DOJ would have been in a position to proceed its review of the classified documents, and almost definitely been in a position to use them within the probe. The DOJ has said the review is vital to find out if there may be other documents that weren’t uncovered within the raid.
Nevertheless, the previous Republican president has a decades-old track record of using the legal system and appeals process to pull out criminal, civil and governmental investigations.
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And as the one who appointed three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, he might need expected to receive a positive ruling.
The DOJ is investigating Trump for removing the records from the White House when he left office in January 2021 and decamped to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. By law, such documents belong to the federal government and should be surrendered to the National Archives and Records Administration.
DOJ is also investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice within the case.
NARA last yr became aware that Trump might need government records in his possession, and ultimately recovered 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago earlier this yr. After discovering that among the documents were classified, NARA referred the problem to the DOJ, which opened a criminal probe.
Before the Aug. 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago, which found 1000’s of presidency documents, Trump’s lawyers had claimed that a search of the club had turned up no such records as requested by DOJ.
After the raid, Trump asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the seized material for documents that may very well be exempt from use within the criminal probe because they’re protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.
Cannon soon after named Brooklyn, Recent York, federal judge Raymond Dearie to serve in that role.
Dearie is continuous to look at the non-classified records seized within the raid.