Trey Paul, FISM News
Dealing a major blow to Donald Trump, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday to reverse the appointment of a special master tasked with reviewing thousands of documents seized by the FBI during an unprecedented raid of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home in August.
The 21-page ruling gives DOJ investigators full access to the 27 boxes of papers it confiscated on August 8 to determine whether Trump “concealed and removed” documents from Mar-a-Lago and stored classified documents in unauthorized locations. They previously had been granted permission to access documents that had been marked classified.
A Trump spokesperson released this statement in response to the ruling:
The panel’s decision today is purely procedural and based only on jurisdiction. The decision does not address the merits that clearly demonstrate the impropriety of the unprecedented, illegal, and unwarranted raid on Mar-a-Lago. President Donald J. Trump will continue to fight against the weaponized Department of ‘Justice,’ while standing for America and Americans.
In the ruling, the three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta acknowledged the assertion by Trump’s spokesperson that the raid on Mar-a-Lago was “unprecedented.”
“It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,” the appeals court wrote.
Limitations on when courts can interfere with a criminal investigation “apply no matter who the government is investigating,” the court added. “To create a special exception here would defy our nation’s foundational principle that our law applies ‘to all, without regard to numbers, wealth or rank.’”
The ruling also states a lower-court judge should never have granted Trump’s request for an independent arbiter in the first place.
“The law is clear. 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. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations. Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required,” the court wrote.
The former president and his legal team have denied any wrongdoing in this case. His attorneys maintain that the seized documents were protected by executive privilege and, if not, were declassified by Trump.
Three days after Trump announced a 2024 presidential run, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.
On Twitter, Senator Ted Cruz stated that Smith, a long-time prosecutor doesn’t have the ability to impartially investigate the former president:
5 facts about Trump Special Counsel Jack Smith:
1—Picked by Garland
2—Led debacle of a prosecution of Bob McDonnell, reversed 9-0 by SCOTUS
3—Involved in the IRS targeting of conservatives
4—Wife is a Biden donor
5—Wife produced a Michelle Obama doc & anti-Citizens United film pic.twitter.com/GIZnLPcldW
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 28, 2022
The appeals court said that its new ruling will go into effect in seven days. Trump’s legal team has not yet stated whether they will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.