A US appeals court on Thursday ended an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate in a major blow to him, allowing all records to be used in a criminal investigation against Trump.
The ruling by the three-judge panel, including two Trump appointees, will go into effect in seven days unless an intervention by the full circuit court or the Supreme Court is made.
The decision by the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit marked a decisive defeat for Trump in a ruling that said a lower-court judge should never have granted his request for an independent arbiter in the first place and is unlikely to be overturned in the event of appeal.
“Former President Donald J. Trump brought a civil action seeking an injunction against the government after it executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago residence,” the appeals court wrote in a unanimous 23-page opinion.
“The law is clear,” it said. “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,” it added.
Trump is likely to appeal the 11th Circuit’s decision to the conservative-majority US Supreme Court. The 11th Circuit said its order will not take effect for seven days, during which time the former president could seek to challenge it.
“The decision does not address the merits that clearly demonstrate the impropriety of the unprecedented, illegal and unwarranted raid on Mar-a-Lago. President Donald J Trump will continue to fight against the weaponized Department of Justice,” a Trump spokesman said in a statement.
Trump sought to have what is known as a special master appointed to review the trove of 11,000 records seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, a request granted on Sept. 5 by District Judge Aileen Cannon when she appointed Senior Judge Raymond Dearie.
The former president’s legal team is seeking to have the special master examine the documents to determine whether any may be covered by what is known as executive privilege.