Trump probe: Appeals court halts Mar-a-Lago special master review

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 18:30:31-05

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Three appellate judges on Thursday halted an independent review of documents seized at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in August.

The judges at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom were appointed by Trump, overturned U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon's ruling that would have appointed a third-party special master to review the thousands of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.

In an opinion, the judges expressed concern about Cannon's decision.

"The law is clear. 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," the opinion read. "Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations. Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required. The district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case. For that reason, we vacate the September 5 order on appeal and remand with instructions for the district court to dismiss the underlying civil action."

The judges had raised skeptical questions toward a Trump lawyer during arguments last week.

Two of the three judges previously ruled in favor of the Justice Department in an earlier dispute over the special master.