An appeals court said Wednesday investigators from the Department of Justice can review about 100 classified documents taken from Mar-A-Lago, even as a court-appointed special master screens most of the seized records, marking a blow to former President Donald Trump and a reversal of a lower court ruling that stopped the DOJ from using the records.
A three-judge panel from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals partially stayed an earlier ruling from District Court Judge Aileen Cannon that prohibited the DOJ from accessing the seized Mar-A-Lago records until a special master can review them.
The appellate court granted the DOJ’s request to exclude roughly 100 records that were marked classified from the special master’s review.
Trump’s legal team has suggested he may have declassified the materials as president, but Trump “resisted providing any evidence,” the panel—which included two Trump appointees and one Obama appointee—noted in its ruling Wednesday.
The appellate court also said the declassification argument is a “red herring” because even if Trump declassified some or all of the documents, that would not explain why Trump has a personal interest in them.