US court allows Justice Dept to speed up appeal in Trump case

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court agreed on Wednesday to expedite a legal challenge to a third-party review of most of the records the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump’s home after prosecutors complained about the process. hinder their investigation.

The decision by the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit represented a small victory for the Justice Department, which had sought an expedited appeal, and a blow to Trump, which had tried to slow the case.

At the heart of the dispute is a decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, who last month appointed Senior Judge Raymond Dearie as a special master to review more than 11,000 records obtained from Mar-a-Lago to weed out , what could be privileged and should be protected from investigators.

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Trump faces a criminal investigation by the Justice Department for keeping government records — some marked highly classified, including “top secret” — at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office, and for possible obstruction. The FBI seized the records in a court-authorized search warrant in August.

However, Cannon’s order put the investigation on hold by ruling that prosecutors could not continue to use the documents for their criminal investigation until Dearie’s review was complete.

In its filing, the Justice Department said this ban hampers its investigation of records mishandling and possible obstruction, and that it must be able to examine unclassified records that may have been kept in close proximity to classified ones.

Those unclassified records, the department said, “may shed light” on how the documents were transferred to or stored on the Mar-a-Lago property and who might have access to them.

This is the second time now that the 11th Circuit has ruled in favor of the Justice Department.

Last month, the Justice Department appealed another part of Cannon’s order, which also blocked them from using approximately 100 seized records marked classified for their criminal investigation and required prosecutors to make those classified materials available to Dearie for his review .

A panel of three judges, two of whom were appointed by Trump, joined the Justice Department’s request, finding that Cannon had erred in including those records in the special master review and barring the Justice Department from accessing them for its investigation.

Trump on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court in an emergency request to overturn part of the 11th Circuit’s ruling, saying the 100 records marked classified should be part of the special master’s review.

In the Justice Department’s latest and broader appeal of the special master appointment before the 11th Circuit, a different three-judge panel will review the case.

A date for oral submissions has not yet been set.

A ruling in the government’s favor would have the potential to end litigation over materials seized in the search, as well as the external review of those documents.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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