Supreme Court won’t intervene in Trump classified documents probe
Former president is now out of options in his bid to have a special master review the classified documents taken from Mar-a-Lago
The Supreme Court declined on Thursday to get involved in a legal battle over classified documents recovered from the home of former President Donald Trump.
Trump asked the high court for emergency relief after a panel judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused give a court-appointed special master access to classified documents that Trump is believed to have removed improperly from the government's custody after the end of his single term in office.
None of the justices on the Supreme Court — three of whom Trump appointed — issued any statement Thursday afternoon on why they tuned him down. Because of how the court allocates circuit assignments for underlying cases, Trump’s appeal was submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas and later referred to the whole court.
The case has been brewing since FBI agents executed a search warrant that led to the recovery of around 11,000 documents, approximately 100 of them classified, from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August. A criminal investigation is now underway into Trump’s retention of government records.
Trump requested that an independent party be appointed to review the seized documents for his personal property. That job went to Raymond Dearie, a former chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn. Dearie is reviewing the records taken from Trump’s home for information protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. As decided by the 11th Circuit, however, classified documents are not included in this review.
The former president had contested only that aspect of the 11th Circuit's ruling, not an order that lets the Justice Department continue using the seized documents in their investigation of Trump.
“This unwarranted stay should be vacated as it impairs substantially the ongoing, time-sensitive work of the Special Master,” Trump's attorney Christopher Kise with the firm Continental wrote in the application. “Moreover, 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.”
In a Tuesday response to Trump’s appeal, the Justice Department said the classified records should not be part of this review because they are government property.
“The district court appointed the special master to review claims of privilege and for the return of personal property, but applicant has no plausible claim of privilege in or ownership of government records bearing classification markings,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the government’s brief.