In a setback for Donald Trump, an appeals court has allowed the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its use of classified records obtained from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
What Happened: The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that “the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in ‘exceptionally grave damage to the national security,’” reported Associated Press.
The court said ascertaining that “necessarily involves reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when, and deciding which (if any) sources or methods are compromised.”
The court said an injunction or delay in preventing criminal investigation “from using classified materials risks imposing real and significant harm on the United States and the public,” according to AP.
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Why It Matters: The court observed the apparent declassification of the seized documents by Trump.
The judge said, “Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified,” reported AP.
“In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.”
Florida Federal Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, had earlier denied the government’s motion for a partial stay on an order that forbade the DoJ from reviewing the seized materials. The judge also appointed a special master, Senior District Judge Raymond Dearie, in the case.
On Wednesday, Trump lawyers got rapped by Dearie in the first hearing on the seized papers who quizzed them on claims that Trump had classified the documents.
Trump had earlier praised Cannon on Truth Social as “brilliant and courageous” and said DoJ is going to spend “millions” along with “Vast amounts of Time & Energy” to appeal the order she passed.
Truth Social is owned by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), which is set to go public through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. DWAC.