A panel from the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked a district judge’s order that handcuffed the investigation of former President Donald Trump’s mishandling of White House records. The panel is allowing the Justice Department to resume its examination of files held illegally at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. It also ruled that it is not necessary for an independent arbiter to review the documents before release to the Justice Department. (The New York Times, September 21, 2022, by Charlie Savage, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer)
The panel said that District Court Judge Aileen Cannon made a crucial error in agreeing that the government had not “displayed a callous disregard for…constitutional rights” in its seizure, a standard set by a 1977 Supreme Court decision, but nonetheless ordered a halt to the investigation. The panel also said while Cannon said Trump had an interest in some of the seized documents, she had failed to explain “why or how Plaintiff [Trump] might have an individual interest in or need for the classified documents.” (The Washington Post, September 22, 2022m by Aaron Blake)
In a related matter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit asking government agencies to disclose whether Trump issued a declassification order for documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.