Court grants DOJ request to block review of classified docs

() — A federal appeals court has granted the Justice Department’s request to block an independent arbiter from reviewing classified documents that were seized from the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.

The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel partially stays the order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon and also gives the DOJ the green light to resume its criminal investigation into how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago. FBI agents searched the home on Aug. 8 and seized troves of documents, including a set of about 100 classified records.

The special master will still be allowed to review the other approximately 11,000 documents that were taken to determine which ones are protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

In its ruling, the panel noted that Trump’s legal team has not actually asserted Trump declassified any of the documents, despite comments to the contrary posted by Trump on social media. His legal team has only said he possessed the ability to do so when he was president.

“In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal,” the court 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’s team on Tuesday resisted a request from the special master, judge Raymond Dearie, to expound on Trump’s declassification claim. Dearie indicated that he would accept the government’s position if Trump’s team didn’t provide any evidence that the former president declassified the documents.

The appeals court judges, two appointed by Trump and one appointed by Barack Obama, also said Trump has no “personal interest” in the documents, one of the factors they must consider when granting an injection.

“For our part, we cannot discern why Plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” the court said. ” Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents.”

The judges declared it “self-evident” that the public interest favored allowing the Justice Department to determine if national security was risked by the improper disclosure of any of the classified documents.

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