The former President Trump won a major victory over the investigators on Thursday. It will likely slow down to a crawl the probe into Mar-a-Lago’s handling of sensitive documents.
Unless the government appeals on Friday succeeds major action in this probe seems unlikely to be delayed past the midterm election — when Trump could plausibly declare that he is a 2024 presidential candidate.
He can argue with more passion in this scenario because he is being targeted for political reasons by the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Trump called the two organizations “vicious monstrosities” at a rally in Pennsylvania.
Trump won when Judge Aileen Clinton announced Thursday that Raymond Dearie, a semiretired judge, would be appointed as a special master in the case. This was the case that became public with the August 8 FBI raid at Trump’s Florida club.
Cannon, who was also a Trump appointee herself, supported Trump in important other ways.
A special master’s role is typically to review documents that were seized during a law enforcement raid and determine if they might be attorney-client communications or private, without evidence.
Cannon stated that Dearie was able to evaluate all documents seized, even those classified. The raid resulted in approximately 11,000 documents being taken, of which about 100 were classified.
Cannon has insisted on appointing a special master. However, the government has made it clear that documents with classified markings must be exempted from this process, including in Friday’s appeal.
The government asserts that these documents are not Trump’s personal property by nature and therefore cannot be relevant to the investigation.
Cannon stated that “the Court doesn’t consider it appropriate to accept Government’s conclusion regarding these important and disputed questions without further review by an impartial third party in a speedy and orderly manner.”
Cannon’s recent decision has two more crucial aspects.
First, she gave the special master until Nov. 30, so he could complete his work. This has clogged some lines of investigation for at most six weeks.
Cannon also held firm to his controversial views.
She claims it is possible to suspend the use of seized documents in criminal investigations while Dearie reviews them. At the same time, she would like to proceed with separate processes that would assess whether national security concerns might be at risk.
According to media reports, at least one document seized may have been a reference to the nuclear capabilities of a foreign country. Many were classified as “TS/SCI,” which stands for Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.
Cannon made a snide jab at investigators in her Thursday ruling. She noted that the main national security risk in the case stems from the “unwarranted disclosures [in] media after the underlying seizure.”
The government argued that the two strands under investigation — possible criminality and national security implications — could not be separated.
Experts warn that investigators will face serious problems if the DOJ loses its appeal.
For now, investigators are unable to use any of the seized documents during interviews with potential witnesses. This would be a serious deterrent to the probe.
“How can one investigate issues related to those documents from an intelligence standpoint if you still cannot share the contents?” asked Mark Zaid, a D.C.-based lawyer who specializes in cases relating to national security.
Let’s say that the first question to Mar-a-Lago staff might be: “Where did you see this classified document?” And they respond, “Which one?” And then, “We can’t tell.”
Zaid pointed out, however, that Trump and his close friends are still in legal trouble.
Obstruction is one of the possible crimes under investigation according to previous filings.
It could be argued that such a crime occurred, but without reference to the contents of the documents.
The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI suggests that Trump and his associates were ordered to produce any documents with classified markings. They claimed they had, but they hadn’t.
This could be considered evidence of a crime regardless of the contents of the documents.
However, in the real world, the DOJ may be reluctant to indict an ex-president at this stage, when it could wait for the review by the special master to conclude.
Some legal observers continue to push back against Cannon’s decision.
Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, stated that Judge Cannon was not simply following Trump’s lead but actually falling at his feet.
Dearie has instructed counsel from each side to appear in Brooklyn federal courthouse, N.Y. on Tuesday for a “preliminary conference.”
Cannon also allowed Dearie to examine the documents in order to determine whether Trump could justifiably exercise executive privilege over them, not just attorney-client privilege.
The reality is not hidden behind the legal arguments.
The trump-appointed judge placed significant speed bumps in the way the investigation was proceeding.
Hi there, I’m Shakti Makvana. I like to write blogs on Entertainment, Sports, News and Technologies. Thanks for being here today!