Trump Appeals Court Loss Gives DOJ Full Access To Seized Mar-a-Lago Docs
The Biden DOJ was handed a huge win last week after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a lower court ruling which required a special master to review records seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in an August raid.
The decision allows the Justice Department to use the remaining cache of unclassified documents, which had been granted a third-party review. It also allows the DOJ to use 22,000 pages of government records obtained during the seizure – which will allow investigators to review as much evidence as possible as they attempt to build a case against the former president.
“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,” wrote the three-judge panel.
It’s the latest sign that Trump’s initial success in the case is diminishing, with the three-judge panel for the court rejecting a number of arguments his legal team has offered since the August 9 search and determining even the unclassified records may be used in the department’s investigation.
The Department of Justice has made clear the classified records found at Mar-a-Lago represent the bulk of its potential case, which could include charges under the Espionage Act. –The Hill
“One of the biggest challenges for the prosecutors in this case was always going to be establishing that Trump had personal knowledge of the fact that the classified documents were at Mar-a-Lago, and that he was personally involved in not returning them, which will go to obstruction,” former CIA attorney Brian Greer told The Hill.
“The fact that these classified documents were intermingled with unclassified documents that he was accessing, or would have been accessing, is potentially very valuable evidence demonstrating Trump’s personal knowledge,” he added.
According to previous court filings, the DOJ claims that Trump’s passports were found among the documents seized in the raid, while government records were found in Trump’s personal office.
Greer also says that the alleged commingling of government and personal items may be useful in responding to possible Trump defenses – as this investigation differs from other similar cases because Trump is “a wealthy man who’s not necessarily involved in packing his boxes.”
“If the classified documents were just in a storage room, in a box that wasn’t being accessed, that would be a harder case. But we know some of the documents were found in Trump’s personal office instead, and if DOJ can use the unclassified, intermingled records to show that Trump was accessing the classified documents, its case will be significantly stronger,” he added.
Sifting through the 22,000 pages of evidence shouldn’t take long, according to experts – though the DOJ may take their sweet time (to hit for maximum impact during the 2024 election?), as they have both an institutional and an investigative interest in winning the case.
Former DOJ trial attorney Ankush Khardori said that the lower court ruling for a special master by Judge Aileen Cannon set a “really bad precedent,” because “if they just had this out there, every defendant or prominent defendant would try to do something similar to Trump.”
“What is in these documents? How serious was the exposure? How significant was Trump’s retention of this material? What was in the actual documents is key to understanding the seriousness of the underlying conduct,” Khardori added.
Mon, 12/05/2022 – 16:40