Appeals court gives classified documents back to federal investigators
A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court Wednesday ruled the Justice Department could resume using classified records seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in its investigation. Two of the judges on the panel were appointed by the former president. By lifting District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s hold on the documents, the federal appeals court removed an obstacle that would have delayed the investigation by weeks. The appeals court rejected the possibility that Trump could indeed have an “individual interest or need” for the roughly 100 documents the FBI seized. Cannon responded Thursday to the federal court by striking out parts of her own ruling for the special master, Raymond Dearie. Under this setup, the Justice Department wouldn’t have to provide Dearie and Trump’s lawyers with classified documents to review — just the unclassified documents.
What does Trump have to say? In a Fox News Channel interview recorded Wednesday before the appeals court’s ruling, Trump said the president can classify documents by saying or even just thinking, “It’s declassified.” The Trump legal team has insisted the president has absolute authority to declassify documents but hasn’t said that Trump did declassify the documents in question. Trump’s lawyers have also resisted providing Dearie with any evidence that Trump did declassify the documents.
Dig deeper: Read Lynn Vincent’s report in WORLD magazine about whether the Mar-a-Lago search signals a new era of American politics.
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