Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Department of Justice
The Supreme Court on Thursday denied 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 that were found by FBI agents at his home among the more than 11,000 government records seized at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
The request came after the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals barred that watchdog, who was appointed by a federal judge, from examining the classified documents. The appeals court said that subset of records could only be reviewed by the Department of Justice, which is conducting a criminal investigation of Trump.
Trump’s lawyers last week asked the Supreme Court to reverse that decision, arguing that it “impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the special master.”
Those attorneys also argued that “any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice.”
On Tuesday, the DOJ urged the Supreme Court to deny Trump’s appeal.
U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar in a court filing argued that Trump has “no plausible claims” to the classified records.
In an order released Thursday, the Supreme Court said, “The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on September 21, 2022, presented to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.”
Thomas has oversight over emergency appeals from the 11th Circuit.
There were no dissents by any of the Supreme Court’s justices noted in the order.
Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court was on a relatively narrow issue and was not expected to affect any ultimate decision by 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 legal system and appeals process to drag out criminal, civil and governmental investigations.
And as the person who appointed three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, he might have expected to receive a favorable ruling.
The DOJ is investigating Trump for removing the records from the White House when he left office in January 2021 and decamped to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. By law, such documents belong to the federal government and must be surrendered to the National Archives and Records Administration.
DOJ also is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice in the case.
NARA last year became aware that Trump might 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 issue to the DOJ, which opened a criminal probe.
Before the Aug. 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago, which found thousands of government documents, Trump’s lawyers had claimed that a search of the club had turned up no such records as requested by 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 probe because they are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.
Cannon soon after named Brooklyn, New York, federal judge Raymond Dearie to serve in that role.
Dearie is continuing to examine the non-classified records seized in the rai.
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