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HomeUS NewsAppeals court to review Mar-a-Lago records as Jack Smith leads probe

Appeals court to review Mar-a-Lago records as Jack Smith leads probe

  • The Justice Department contends the special master’s review is ‘unwarranted.’
  • Trump’s lawyers contend he could suffer irreparable harm if the review is curtailed.
  • The appeals hearing comes after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special prosecutor.

Days after the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to investigate Donald Trump, a three-judge panel of federal appeals judges will consider Tuesday whether a special master should be reviewing 11,000 documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

The Justice Department appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the order from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appointing the special master, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, as “unwarranted.”

Trump has “no plausible claim of executive privilege as to any of the seized materials” and had not demonstrated that provisions to screen out documents that might involve attorney-client communications were “inadequate,” government lawyers argued.

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointed Smith on Friday to oversee the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his unauthorized transfer of classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House. Smith approved of the arguments federal prosecutors will make at the appeals hearing.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that he would suffer irreparable harm if Dearie doesn’t review the documents for personal records or for falling under executive privilege.

Jack Smith, then the Department of Justice's chief of the Public Integrity Section, poses for photo at the Department of Justice in Washington, on Aug. 24, 2010. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith a special counsel on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, to oversee the investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate, as well as aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.

The panel – Chief Judge William Pryor and Judges Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher – will hear oral arguments Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern.

FBI agents seized the documents as part of a criminal investigation for evidence of violations of the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice. Dearie, whose review is scheduled to end by Dec. 16, could potentially block the investigators from using the documents.

A previous appeals panel ruled earlier the Justice Department could continue its investigation during the special master review and not submit 100 classified documents found during the search for Dearie’s review. Trump appealed, but the Supreme Court refused to intervene.

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