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Tipsheet

Supreme Court to Trump: You're on Your Own

AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar

It was probably a Hail Mary toss by the Trump legal team, but their quest to have the Supreme Court intervene in the case involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation's August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago is over. The Court isn't going to step in, so we must wait until the special master and the Department of Justice complete their report. 

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The raid was highly controversial as this was the first time federal agents ransacked the home of a former president over records collection. The National Archives believes that Trump never fully turned over every document in question, which set this terrible thing into motion. The Justice Department thought it would find nuclear secrets, maybe even corroborating documents that Trump planned the January 6 riot on the property. 

None of those allegations proved accurate, and those of us who had to endure the Russian collusion fiasco knew none of this was factual (via WaPo): 

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to reinstate Judge Aileen Cannon’s order that a special master review classified documents taken in an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Florida home and private club. There were no noted dissents.

 The one-sentence order turned aside an emergency request from the former president to intervene in the document review, which is part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the potential mishandling of classified material after Trump left the White House.

The review is being done by special master Raymond J. Dearie, a federal judge in Brooklyn, who was recommended for the job by Trump’s legal team, which asked for a review of all 11,000 or so documents seized by the FBI to see if any should be shielded from investigators because of attorney-client or executive privilege.

 The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 103 of the seized documents, which bore classified markings, should be exempt from Dearie’s review.

Trump’s legal team then made a technical and narrow petition to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to reconsider a portion of that order.

In response, the Justice Department told the court that allowing an outside arbiter to review the classified documents would “irreparably injure” government.

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The Justice Department has said it's already reviewed the documents, making the appointment of a special master moot. Yet, Judge Aileen Cannon granted the motion and issued an injunction restricting the DOJ's access to the files. The DOJ's investigation into this matter was halted for a brief while. Then, the appeals process began, which had everyone on edge since it could have taken as long as several months, which the FBI probably would have accepted. It keeps this dangling over Trump's head, though that would never stop him from declaring his pending 2024 candidacy. 

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Cannon's injunction, restoring the DOJ's access while barring the special master from analyzing 100 documents, which the Justice Department said could create a national security issue. The haggling over who was an acceptable special master candidate was already bad enough before both sides settled on Judge Raymond Dearie.

The Mar-a-Lago raid remains a grossly unconstitutional search, but our institutions are corrupt and beholden to Democratic Party orders. It was also an excellent refresher for those in this field of law to remind everyone that a) the president has ultimate declassification authority, b) the government overclassifies everything, and c) the FBI told the Trump legal team to keep all documents on the property in a June letter before it went in heavy to create a media spectacle.

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