For former President Donald Trump, it wasn’t even the worst legal news he received on Wednesday. It came later in the evening, when a unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit lifted a district court ruling that had partially halted an ongoing Justice Department criminal investigation. Whether Trump was illegally detained in March. A big episode of a-Lago (and refused to return). official documents.
The immediate effect of the panel’s decision is to clear the way for the Justice Department to continue its work. But the broader significance of Wednesday night’s decision — significance that, at least for now, clearly outweighs the possibility of what could happen in a civil suit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James — is that The fact that a panel that included two Trumps. The speakers simply poured very cold water on the arguments he had left to defend against the Mar-a-Lago find.
At issue before the Eleventh Circuit was whether to freeze part of an injunction that U.S. District Court Judge Elaine Cannon entered on Sept. 5 — an order requiring the Justice Department to recover from an Aug. 8 search. Most of the content was to be stopped from being used. Of Kill-A-Lago Unless they are reviewed by a court-appointed special master. (Special Master, Judge Raymond Derry expressed his opinion. Plenty of skepticism (to Trump’s claims at his first hearing on Tuesday).
A 29-page, three-judge Eleventh Circuit panel made quick work of Canon. Ruler — saying that the Justice Department was almost certain to succeed in overturning the ruling, and thus the order should be frozen, at least as it applies to classified material, pending an appeal. The process runs its course.
Among other things, the panel, which included Judges Robin Rosenbaum (appointed by President Barack Obama) and Judges Burt Grant and Andrew Brasher (appointed by Trump), highlighted the absence of any evidence that Trump was Any classified information discovered at Mar-a-Lago was declassified, and to the extent that the entire issue is a “red herring” for the broader debate over whether those documents belong to Trump or the government.
As every expert in the field has been patiently explaining for the past six weeks, Trump’s Argument “I explained everything” Equal parts are factually unconscionable and legally unnecessary.
But it was in the more subtle areas of opinion that the panel dealt Trump his most significant defeat. On two pages and a footnote that casual readers could be forgiven for skipping past, the three judges dismissed the claims of Trump and his supporters (including the state of Texas, which filed a highly unusual amicus curiae). Rejected in no uncertain terms. Out of Court Brief on behalf of 10 other red states.) that the investigation of the former president and the Mar-a-Lago search were merely malicious harassment by the Biden administration.
This theme, which has gained prominence in the right-wing media, suggests that all normal deference to government in the midst of a criminal investigation should be suspended in this case because the Biden administration cannot be trusted. (Again, a short trip to Texas is plenty.)
The panel directly denied the allegation. As ExplainedAlthough the relief provided by the relief canon may be appropriate in cases in which the government’s conduct was “part of a plan to use arrests, seizures, and threats of prosecution” not to obtain convictions but to “harass” the defendant. “to do,” Trump did not. Such an allegation here” (in his legal papers, anyway), “nor do we see any evidence in the record to support any.”
In other words, a three-judge panel on one of the more conservative federal appeals courts in the country looked at the Mar-a-Lago search and the broader criminal and national security investigation into the former president of the United States and didn’t. could do See any evidence in the record” to support the claim that the Biden administration was using its law enforcement authorities to harass Trump — such as the board about serious potential violations of federal criminal laws. As opposed to doing the actual investigation above.
It won’t be the way the right-wing media has portrayed the decision, but in its unemotional prose, it’s a devastating indictment of the ongoing effort to portray Trump as a victim.
To be sure, Trump could still ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Eleventh Circuit’s stay (the appeals court does not allow full court review of emergency rulings like Wednesday’s). But as cynical as the Supreme Court has become, any such attempt is unlikely to succeed.
The same court has ruled against Trump in similar cases — including this January, when Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone public dissenter. Ruler Clearing the way for the National Archives to hand over the records to the House Select Committee on January 6. But the justices will also take a close look at what the Eleventh Circuit wrote Wednesday — and see, as all three judges on the appeals panel made clear, that not for the first time, the (former) emperor has any clothing. do not have.