An independent expert will have to be appointed to review documents seized in early August by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Florida home, a U.S. judge ordered Monday, offering a reprieve to the former president.
Judge Aileen Cannon granted the Republican billionaire’s request with the ruling, which temporarily bars federal investigators from using documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home, in their criminal investigation.
Instead, investigators can continue to review the documents “for classification purposes and national security assessments,” according to the federal magistrate’s ruling.
The decision represents a victory for the former Republican president and a serious setback for the Justice Department, which had opposed the appointment of an independent third party, saying it could block investigators’ access to documents “and would severely damage government interests, including national security.”
Reacting to the decision on his social network, Truth Social, Donald Trump linked it to the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden and is still contesting the results.
“Now that the FBI and Justice Department have been caught in a massive and crucial election scam, will they change the results of the 2020 presidential election? They should,” he wrote.
On the Justice Department side, they say in a statement to “review the decision” of the court and “consider appropriate next steps for the ongoing litigation,” according to department spokesman Anthony Coley.
Appointed by Donald Trump himself in 2020, Judge Cannon writes in her ruling that the appointment of the independent supervisor will be made “without delay,” asking the parties to come forward with a list of potential names for a hearing scheduled for Friday.
Parody of Justice
On August 8, the FBI had seized boxes of confidential documents at Donald Trump’s residence in Florida that the Republican had not returned after leaving the White House, despite multiple requests.
Since this spectacular and unprecedented police operation for a former U.S. head of state, Donald Trump, who is openly considering running for president again in 2024, has stormed against an act that he considers “illegal and unconstitutional” and repeats that he was targeted for political reasons.
“The disgraceful raid and the raid on my Mar-a-Lago home was a travesty of justice,” he launched Saturday night before a crowd of supporters at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania for the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
In January, the former president’s staff turned over 15 boxes of documents that he took with him when he left the White House to the National Archives Agency, which is responsible for recording presidential activities for history.
Top Secret Documents
It was after examining these boxes that the FBI, convinced that Donald Trump was keeping other classified documents in Florida, in potentially inappropriate conditions, decided to search, seizing on this occasion about thirty other boxes of documents.
They took documents protected by client-attorney confidentiality, Donald Trump had claimed.
Investigators suspect the Republican of having violated a U.S. law on espionage that strictly regulates the possession of confidential documents. Donald Trump assured that these documents had been declassified.
Among the texts seized during the police operation are 18 documents classified as “top secret”, 53 “secret” and 31 “confidential”.
Among them are papers that were recovered from Mr. Trump’s personal office.
Agents also found several dozen empty files marked “classified” in the office, which may suggest that sensitive documents may have been lost or destroyed.
The billionaire is also the target of investigations into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and his role in the violent assault by his supporters on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.
He is not currently being prosecuted in any cases.