A panel of judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a request from the Justice Department to stay portions of a ruling by district Judge Aileen Cannon that had effectively paused the government’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s potential mishandling of classified records after leaving office.
The three-judge panel, comprised of two Trump appointees and an Obama-era appointee, ruled unanimously that the Justice Department is no longer enjoined from using the documents with classifications recovered from Mar-a-Lago in its investigation and will no longer have to submit them to special master Ray Dearie for his review.
“[Trump] has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the panel said in its ruling. “Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents.”
They also agree with the Justice Department that Trump has submitted no record or claim that he ever declassified the documents at issue, and that his team resisted stating as much when pressed by Dearie.
“In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal,” the judges said. “So even if we assumed that Plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.”