Trump probe: Court halts Mar-a-Lago special master review
A unanimous federal appeals court on Thursday ended an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information.
The decision by the three-judge panel represents a significant win for federal prosecutors, clearing the way for them to use as part of their investigation the entire tranche of documents seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. It also amounts to a sharp repudiation of arguments by Trump’s lawyers, who for months had said that the former president was entitled to have a so-called “special master” conduct a neutral review of the thousands of documents taken from the property.
The ruling from the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit had been expected given the skeptical questions the judges directed at a Trump lawyer during arguments last week, and because two of the three judges on the panel had already ruled in favor of the Justice Department in an earlier dispute over the special master.
The decision was a unanimous opinion from the panel of Republican appointees, including two who were selected by Trump. In it, the court rejected each argument by Trump and his attorneys for why a special master was necessary, including his claims that various seized records were protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.