Documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Ministry of Justice
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by former President Donald Trump to vacate a lower appeals court ruling in a case related to the FBI raid and seizure of documents from his Florida residence last month.
Trump had asked the Supreme Court to allow a so-called special master to review more than 100 classified documents found by FBI agents at his home among the more than 11,000 government records seized from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
The request came after the 11th US Circuit of Appeals blocked the watchdog appointed by a federal judge from examining the classified documents. The appeals court said a subset of the records could only be reviewed by the Justice Department, which is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump.
Trump’s lawyers last week asked the Supreme Court to reverse that decision, arguing that it “substantially detracts from the special master’s ongoing, time-sensitive work.”
Those lawyers also argued that “any limitation on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our judicial system.”
On Tuesday, the DOJ urged the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s appeal.
US Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar argued in a lawsuit that Trump has “no plausible claim” to the classified records.
In an order released Thursday, the Supreme Court said: “The application to vacate the stay filed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on September 21, 2022, was submitted to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and referred by him to the Court is denied.”
Thomas oversees emergency appeals from the 11th Circuit.
There was no dissent from any of the Supreme Court judges noted in the ruling.
Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court was on a relatively narrow issue and was not expected to affect any final decision by the DOJ on whether to file criminal charges against him or others. Even if he had prevailed, the DOJ would have continued its review of the classified documents.
However, the former Republican president has a decades-old track record of using the court system and the appeals process to draw out criminal, civil and state investigations.
And as the appointee of three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, he might have expected a favorable ruling.
The DOJ is investigating Trump for removing the records from the White House when he left office in January 2021 and moved to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. By law, such documents belong to the federal government and must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The DOJ is also investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice in the case.
NARA became aware last year that Trump may have government records in his possession and ultimately recovered 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. After discovering that some of the documents were classified, NARA referred the matter to the DOJ, which opened a criminal case.
Before the Aug. 8 raid at Mar-a-Lago, which turned up thousands of government documents, Trump’s lawyers had argued that a search of the club had turned up no such records as requested by the DOJ.
After the raid, Trump asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the seized material for documents that could be exempt from use in the criminal investigation because they are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.
Cannon soon after appointed Brooklyn, New York, federal judge Raymond Dearie to serve in that role.
Dearie continues to examine the unclassified records seized in the raid.
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