A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that a judge’s order appointing a special master to review documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort should be thrown out.
The decision by a three-judge 11th Circuit panel lifts previous restrictions on the Justice Department’s review of classified documents and other material and will allow investigators to proceed with the investigation more quickly.
The panel said U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order in September to appoint an arbitrator and block the government from using a trove of documents it had recovered from Trump’s Mar-a resort -Lago on August 8 with a search warrant was incorrect.
“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the warrant is executed,” the panel wrote. “As a result, we agree with the government that the District Court erroneously exercised equitable jurisdiction and that a dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”
In a separate order, the panel said its order would take effect in seven days, barring any intervention by the Supreme Court. Trump could appeal Thursday’s ruling and ask that the appeals court’s order be stayed.
NBC News has reached out to a Trump spokesperson for comment.
The appeals court ruling overturns Cannon’s appointment of Raymond J. Dearie, a senior U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York, to review all documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago after the team of Trump argued that they could not rely on a so-called Justice Department screening team to set aside all privileged documents. The screening team is separate from the investigators who conduct the criminal investigation.
Legal experts at the time lambasted Cannon’s decision to grant Trump’s request for an independent review, with many questioning the implementation process and warning that the government’s eventual appeal was likely to prolong investigation.
Two of the three judges on the appeals court panel – Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher – were appointed by Trump. The third, Chief Justice Brill Pryor, was appointed by former President George W. Bush.