It was two months ago when US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon gave Trump and his lawyers everything they wanted in the Mar-a-Lago scandal: The Trump-appointed lawyer approved a request for a special master and blocked parts of the ongoing proceedings of the Ministry of Justice. investigation.
As regular readers know, among jurists left, right and center, a consensus quickly formed: Cannon’s decision was ridiculous. Prominent legal voices have used words like “hazelnut,” “absurdand “unconscious” to describe the Labor Day decision. Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, called the judge’s legal analysis “terrible” and “awful”, before final“Frankly, any of my freshman law students would have written a better opinion.”
On Sept. 21, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals — including two Trump appointees — overturned key parts of Cannon’s order. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the appeals bench took aim at the rest of the district court’s decision.
A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that a judge’s order appointing a special master to review documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort should be thrown out. The decision by a three-judge 11th Circuit panel lifts previous restrictions on the Justice Department’s review of classified documents and other documents and allows investigators to proceed with the investigation more quickly.
In its written decision, the unanimous three-judge panel — made up of two legal experts appointed by Trump and one appointed by George W. Bush — called their findings obvious and inescapable.
“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the warrant is executed,” the panel wrote. “As a result, we agree with the government that the district court erroneously exercised equitable jurisdiction and that a dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”
I can understand why the progressive developments in multiple courts can get confusing, so let’s be clear: the Justice Department cannot press charges in the Mar-a-Lago case unless and until investigators Federals know what evidence they have and how they are able to use it. If yesterday’s 11th Circuit ruling prevails, it means a special master shouldn’t have been appointed in the first place, and prosecutors will be able to proceed with their criminal case without interference.
And for the former president who took classified documents, refused to return them and allegedly hampered the recovery process, that’s not good news.
Indeed, making matters worse for the Republican, the Justice Department’s efforts were advancing even before yesterday’s news from the 11th Circuit. The New York Times reported overnight: “Over the past few weeks, several witnesses related to the investigation have appeared before a grand jury in federal court for the District of Washington. On Thursday, that included three close aides to Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“The aides were Dan Scavino Jr., Mr. Trump’s former social media guru, William Russell and William B. Harrison, who worked for Mr. Trump when he was in the White House, the people said.”
As for the former president himself, he has reason to be concerned – the possibility of indictment is very real – and his rhetoric on the controversy, which he describes as “the hoax of the document”, does not not help.
Earlier this week, through his social media platform, Trump not only admitted he took documents, but also bragged about how he took them, saying he had done so “openly and transparently”.
With an escalating criminal investigation underway, it’s a safe bet the missive hasn’t been cleared by the Republican’s lawyers.
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