Federal prosecutors were handed a legal win Wednesday in their Mar-a-Lago investigation when an appeals court allowed them to resume handling the trove of classified records taken from Donald Trump’s Florida estate.
A three-judge Florida federal appeals panel lifted a hold that halted the Department of Justice’s ability to comb through the documents as it weighed potential criminal charges against the former president for stockpiling sensitive government records at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump-appointed US District Judge Aileen Cannon had implemented the restriction on Sept. 5 when she approved Trump’s request for a special master to independently arbitrate claims of privilege on the some 11,000 seized files.
The feds had claimed that the hold hindered the ongoing obstruction and espionage probes against Trump, and successfully argued the government shouldn’t have to wait for special master Judge Raymond Dearie — a longtime Brooklyn federal prosecutor — to finish his review of the case ahead of a late November deadline.
Trump’s legal team had argued that Dearie was needed to separate files that were subject to attorney-client privilege or executive privilege because federal prosecutors were biased.
The DOJ had contended that neither forms of privilege were applicable to the evidence, which was collected on an Aug. 8 FBI raid of Trump’s home and country club.
During his first hearing Tuesday, Dearie pressed Trump lawyers for evidence that the ex-president had declassified the seized records as he had repeatedly claimed. Attorneys responded that they could not discuss their defense until they are presented with the documents.
With Post wires