The 11th circuit court of appeals on Thursday halted the special master review of documents taken by the FBI in an August 8 search warrant on former President Trump’s country club residence Mar-a-Lago.
The move paves the way for the Justice Department to gain access to all of the thousands of documents in its criminal investigation of the former President.
The ruling reverses the September decision of Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, of whom the 11th circuit was sharply critical. The 11th circuit said Cannon, a Trump appointee, never had legitimate jurisdiction to order the review or bar investigators from using the files.
Further, the 11th circuit said that there was no justification for treating the former President differently from any other target of a search warrant.
The court wrote in a unanimous 23-page opinion that “the law is clear.” Adding, “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”
On November 25, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed veteran career prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Trump in this case and/or in Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and the plot to overturn the result of the 2020 Presidential election.
Trump can appeal the court’s decision to the Supreme Court, according to local rules in the 11th circuit, but it was not immediately clear whether he would do so.