A three-judge federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to resume the review of documents marked as classified that the FBI seized during the raid in former President Trump’s home as part of the investigation of his potential mishandling of the information.
DOJ is weighing in its investigation on whether to bring criminal charges against Trump that involve possible violations of several federal statutes, including the Espionage Act.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s judges – two appointed by Trump and one appointed by former President Obama- also agreed in its strongly worded 29-page decision that Trump’s lawyers need not review the classified documents that the FBI took.
They, however, allowed in their opinion for the Special Master recently appointed by a federal judge in Florida to continue his review simultaneously.
As per their opinion, there’s no evidence that Trump even declassified the documents while in office, as he has suggested on social media, and could find no personal interest for Trump in documents marked classified.
The panel also wrote that the declassification argument is a red herring, at least for these purposes, because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.
This decision is blocking the lower court’s order that had strictly limited the investigation into Trump’s handling of sensitive government materials. DOJ’s investigators have been temporarily barred by US District Judge Aileen Cannon from using the documents.
Justice Department officials appealed Judge Cannon’s ruling on Friday, saying in a court motion that denying prosecutors immediate access to the highly sensitive documents taken from Trump’s estate would delay their investigation at a heightened risk to national security.
Although they also appealed the Special Master’s appointment, they eventually supported Judge Raymond Dearie, one of the Trump team’s candidates for the position, to serve the role.