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Supreme Court denies Trump bid to void ruling in Mar-a-Lago raid documents case

Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Department of Justice

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by former President Donald Trump to vacate a lower appeals court ruling in a case related to the FBI raid and seizure of documents from his Florida residence last month.

The 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals had barred a so-called special master, who was appointed by a federal judge, from reviewing more than 100 classified documents as part of an examination of the more than 11,000 government records seized in the raid to determine which should be barred from being used in a criminal probe of Trump.

Trump’s lawyers last week asked the Supreme Court to reverse that decision arguing that it “impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the special master.”

Those attorneys also argued that “any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice.”

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice urged the Supreme Court to deny Trump’s appeal.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar in a court filing argued that Trump has “no plausible claims” to the classified records.

In an order released Thursday, the Supreme Court said, “The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on September 21, 2022, presented to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

Thomas has oversight over emergency appeals from the 11th Circuit.

Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court was on a relatively narrow issue and was not expected to affect any ultimate decision by DOJ on whether to file criminal charges against him or others.

However, the former Republican president has a decades-old track record of using the legal system and appeals process to drag out criminal, civil and governmental investigations.

And as the person who appointed three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, he might have had an expectation of receiving a favorable ruling from the high court.

The DOJ is investigating Trump for removing the records from the White House when he left office in January 2021 and decamped to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. By law, such documents belong to the federal government and must be surrendered to the National Archives and Records Administration.

DOJ also is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice in the case.

NARA last year became aware that Trump might have government records in his possession, and ultimately recovered 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. After discovering that some of the documents were classified, NARA referred the issue to the DOJ, which opened a criminal probe.

Before the Aug. 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago, which found thousands of government documents, Trump’s lawyers had claimed that a search of the club had turned up no such records as requested by DOJ.

After the raid, Trump asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the seized material for documents that could be exempt from use in the criminal probe because they are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

Cannon soon after named Brooklyn, New York, federal judge Raymond Dearie to serve in that role.

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