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US court lifts hold on classified records in Trump probe

September 22, 2022

A federal appeals court has allowed the US Justice Department to resume its review of sensitive records seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

 Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower.
The FBI seized over 11,000 documents, including some 100 with classified markings, in a court-approved search at Trump’s Palm Beach clubImage: Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo/picture alliance

The US Justice Department (DOJ) can resume its review of classified records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home as part of its ongoing criminal probe, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling came from a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was in response to a request by federal prosecutors to block an order by US District Judge Aileen Cannon— a Trump appointee — to halt the review of the documents pending a further order or until the completion of a report of an independent arbiter called a special master.

The special master would do an independent review of the classified records and weed out any that may be covered by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

On Wednesday, the federal appeals court also agreed with the Justice Department that the special master need not look at the classified documents.

The government had argued that the lower court stay was impeding the investigation to assess whether to bring criminal charges over the storage of confidential records at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House.

"We conclude that the United States would suffer irreparable harm from the district court’s restrictions on its access to this narrow — and potentially critical — set of materials, as well as the court’s requirement that the United States submit the classified records to the special master for review," the appeals court said.

On August 8, the FBI seized over 11,000 documents — including some 100 with classified markings— in a court-approved search at Trump’s Palm Beach club.

It has launched a criminal probe into whether the sensitive documents were mishandled or compromised.

dvv/aw (AP, Reuters)