Updated Sep 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Federal appeals court grants DOJ classified records request in Trump case

Former President Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Former President Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas in August. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday granted the Justice Department's request to resume reviewing classified documents seized from former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence for its ongoing criminal investigation.

The big picture: The ruling is a win for the Department of Justice after a federal judge temporarily blocked investigators from examining Trump's storage of the sensitive government records, which the DOJ argued would hinder its investigation.

What they're saying: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit said in its ruling granting a partial stay that Trump "has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents."

  • "Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents," wrote the Trump-appointed Judges Britt Grant and Andrew Brasher and the Obama-appointed Judge Robin Rosenbaum.
  • The judges noted that Trump suggested he may have declassified documents while he was president, but there's no record of that and he didn't provide any evidence to prove that before the special master.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon denied the DOJ's request to exclude the classified papers that the FBI seized from Trump's Florida home when she appointed former New York federal judge Raymond Dearie as special master to overseeing a review of the documents.

  • The appeals court judges noted that the DOJ argued the district court "likely erred in exercising its jurisdiction to enjoin the United States' use of the classified records in its criminal investigation and to require the United States to submit the marked classified documents to a special master for review."
  • "We agree," they added.

The other side: Trump said in an interview on Fox News' "Hannity" that was recorded before the ruling and aired on Wednesday night that if you're the president "you can declassify just by saying, 'it's declassified."

  • "Even by thinking about it, because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it. ... There can be a process, but there doesn't have to be," he told Fox News' Sean Hannity.
  • Trump's legal team argued in a filing Tuesday that the DOJ hadn't successfully proved that the documents "it claims are classified are, in fact, classified and their segregation is inviolable."
  • Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Trump opposes immediately sharing declassification details in Mar-a-Lago case

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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