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Investigators gain access to all seized Trump documents

December 2, 2022

In a unanimous ruling, a US appeals court has allowed prosecutors to examine all documents seized at former US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate to investigate whether he mishandled government documents.

Donald Trump waving his hand
During a raid, thousands of government records were found at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.Image: Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo/picture alliance

In a major blow to former US President Donald Trump, a US appeals court on Thursday overturned his efforts to get a third-party review of government documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Removing a major hurdle to the Justice Department's investigation, the ruling allows prosecutors to examine all the documents in their investigation of whether Trump mishandled government documents and illegally kept national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge bench reversed a September decision taken by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, allowing the appointment of a "special master" to review documents.

The three justices pointed out that the lower court judge had no jurisdiction to place limits on the Justice Department's investigation of the documents seized at Trump's residence.

''It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,'' the judges wrote.

What is Trump documents case?

On August 8, a court-approved raid was conducted at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach during which FBI agents seized about 11,000 records, including about 100 documents marked as classified.

Following the raid, Trump sued in federal court in Florida and appealed for the appointment of an independent arbiter or "special master" to review the roughly 13,000 documents the Justice Department said were found on his premises.

For months, Trump's lawyers argued that the former president was entitled to have a so-called ''special master'' conduct an impartial review of the thousands of documents.

However, in its ruling Thursday, the appeals court suggested that Trump had no legal basis to challenge the raid in the first place.

mf/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)