One of Donald Trump’s main tactics to delay the Justice Department’s Mar-a-Lago investigation was officially killed off on Monday. Following orders from an appeals court, a Trump-appointed judge was forced to formally dismiss the ex-president’s lawsuit demanding a third-party review of the evidence seized at his estate. Less than two weeks ago, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Aileen Cannon had no legal standing to be involved in the criminal investigation and ordered that she no longer preside over any other related hearings.
“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,” wrote the court. “Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”
IT'S OFFICIAL: Judge Cannon has dismissed Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago lawsuit on instructions from the appeals court. pic.twitter.com/8rtgMu0GC0
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 12, 2022
Shortly after the search of Trump’s private beach club and residence, Cannon blocked the DOJ’s access to the hundreds of classified documents found there and ordered that a retired judge, Raymond Dearie, review the evidence. This “special master” would then issue recommendations on whether or not any documents should be withheld from investigators. Cannon would then be the final arbiter.
Legal analysts were quick to rake Cannon over the coals, as my colleague Dan Friedman previously pointed out:
Dearie seems to be on course to call Trump’s bluff. If Trump declassified documents, his lawyers need to prove it. But while Dearie seems skeptical of Trump’s arguments, the appointment of a special master—ordered by District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee—helped the former president by buying him time. Cannon drew fire from legal analysts, who noted she had given deference to a nonsensical claim of “executive privilege” by Trump, who is not the president. While such claims are usually asserted by sitting presidents to block executive branch deliberations from Congress or the public, here the executive branch seized the material from a citizen outside government.
According to CNN, today’s dismissal finally allows the Justice Department full access to the hundreds of records and other classified contents found in the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August.