The 11th Circuit ruled for the Department of Justice.Appeal on Mar-a-Lago Trump

An appeals court joined the Justice Department in a legal battle over classified documents seized during a court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling Wednesday that the FBI can use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation.

The decision by the appeals court’s three-judge panel marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump, at least temporarily, in obtaining evidence in a high-stakes investigation to determine whether the former president or his advisers mishandled the country Secure secrets, or hide or destroy government records.

It was the second legal setback of the day for Trump, who was indicted Wednesday morning by New York Attorney General Letitia James.Lawsuit says Trump and his companies blatantly manipulated property and other asset valuations to defraud lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities Better tax rates and lower tax liability.

On September 21, New York Attorney General Letitia James accused former President Donald Trump of obtaining financial gain through fraudulent asset valuations. (Video: The Washington Post)

In a ruling Wednesday night, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Trump’s rationale for the Aug. 8 seizure of classified documents was flawed. 8 Probably his property, not the government’s.The appeals court also disagreed with U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s Confidential documents reviewed by special supervisors to determine whether they should be kept secret from investigators because of administrative or attorney-client privilege.

“In our case, we can’t discern why [Trump] There will be personal interest or need for any hundred documents marked with classification,” the court wrote, noting that the stay it issued was temporary and should not be considered a final decision on the merits of the case.

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The panel wrote in a 29-page opinion that the lower court “abused its discretion in exercising jurisdiction … because it involved classified documents.” Two judges on the panel were appointed by Trump; the third was appointed by President Barack Obama.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, which was recorded before the appeals court issued its ruling, Trump claimed he had declassified the documents, suggesting that no written records were necessary.

“I declassified the documents when they left the White House,” Trump said. “As I understand it, there doesn’t have to be a process. You’re the president of the United States, and you can decipher…even if you think about it.”

The panel finds Trump’s legal team’s repeated suggestion that he may have declassified the documents particularly unconvincing — citing a Tuesday appearance by Trump’s lawyers before special guru Raymond Dearie, who urged They say whether the former president moved to declassify the documents. question.

“Plaintiff suggested that he may have declassified the documents while he was president. But the record has no evidence that any of these records were declassified. Before the special master, the plaintiff refused to provide any evidence that he declassified the documents,” the expert said group wrote. “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a distraction because declassifying an official document does not alter its content or make it personal.”

Last week, the Justice Department filed documents asking the appeals court to quickly review part of Cannon’s decision in which she appointed a special director to review the seized documents.

Prosecutors said two parts of her order — allowing the special director to review about 100 documents marked classified and to halt criminal investigations around them while the special director conducts review — jeopardized national security interests.

Florida federal judge Cannon appointed New York City federal judge Dearie as special director to review some 11,000 documents and items seized in the FBI search.

The Post’s Perry Stein explains how a particular host will determine whether any documents seized by the FBI are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege. (Video: The Washington Post)

Donald Trump, his three children, sued by New York attorney general for business practices

The Justice Department had previously asked Cannon to reconsider both elements of her order, but she declined in a written order that has repeatedly cast doubt on the administration’s claims in the case.

In particular, Cannon said that risk assessments of cases by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence can continue, while criminal investigators are temporarily barred from using classified documents.

The Justice Department said the distinction is impractical because much of the DNI’s work is necessarily done by FBI agents, and the two tasks are “inseparable.” Cannon rejected that description and stood by her original decision.

But the appeals court rejected her reasoning on the issue, writing: “The distinction is untenable.” The panel also used its ruling to go public with how the government classifies and declassifies government secrets, and the process Why is it so important.

“For example, information that may reveal the identity of classified individuals or information related to weapons of mass destruction is exempt from automatic disclosure,” the judge wrote.

Some documents seized from Mar-a-Lago contained information related to a scheme involving intelligence gathered from human resources, prosecutors said in court filings. The Washington Post reported that a document recovered by FBI agents described the military defenses of foreign governments, including their nuclear capabilities.

The Justice Department told the appeals court it disagreed with Cannon’s decision, but it asked the court to suspend “only the portion of the order that causes the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public,” saying the scope of its request was “modest but critical.” “.

Trump’s lawyers have countered in their own filing, urging the appeals court not to mediate, suggesting that documents marked classified may not actually be classified, arguing that if so, it’s up to the government to prove it.

The appeals court’s ruling simplifies the special master’s job, removing classified documents from the equation — though Dirie said at a meeting on Tuesday that he might avoid reviewing classified documents if he could.

At Tuesday’s hearing, attorneys for the Justice Department said they could appeal the issue to the Supreme Court if they lost the 11th Circuit; it was unclear whether Trump’s legal team would make such an appeal, Because the panel has already ruled against them.

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