An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, ruling Wednesday that the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation, reports the Washington Post.
Appeals court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe (Washington Post)
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Excerpt from the Washington Post: The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory, at least temporarily, for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence in a high-stakes investigation to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets, or hid or destroyed government records. In Wednesday night’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta found fault with Trump’s rationale that the classified documents seized on Aug. 8 might be his property, rather than the government’s. The appeals court also disagreed with the rationale used by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon in agreeing to have the classified documents reviewed by a special master to see if they should be shielded from investigators because of executive or attorney-client privilege.
The special master has also made requests of Trump's legal team, so the push by the former president to appoint a special master in the Mar-a-Lago documents case has quickly lost its main utility, according to an analysis from Aaron Blake for the Washington Post. Halting the Justice Department’s review of those documents — and by extension slowing its criminal probe of Trump — appeared to be its essential aim, but in the end, it bought only about two weeks’ worth of delay.
Trump’s special master pick turns into a headache (Washington Post)
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Excerpt from the Washington Post: First, Dearie did something that Trump-nominated U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, for some reason, hadn’t: actually pressing Trump’s legal team on its suggestions that Trump might have declassified the documents. That’s now irrelevant to Dearie’s review, with those documents no longer under his purview. But their failure to provide any real evidence that declassification took place (or to echo Trump’s public assurances that he had declassified all of the documents) was rebuked first by Dearie and then, shortly thereafter, by the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. In an order Thursday, Dearie pressed Trump’s lawyers on another of Trump’s repeated suggestions about what really went down: the still-baseless theory that the FBI might have planted evidence. Dearie adds that this will be the Trump legal team’s "final opportunity" to raise such disputes. It’s the first time Trump’s lawyers have been directly charged with accounting for Trump’s out-of-court claims.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing former president Donald Trump, three of his grown children and executives at his company of flagrantly manipulating property and other asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities into giving them better bank-loan and insurance policy rates and to reduce their tax liability.
"Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal," James said, mocking the titled of the former president’s 1987 book. "There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state."
"Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda," Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement on Wednesday. "We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims."
Donald Trump, 3 of his children accused of business fraud by New York AG (Washington Post)
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Excerpt from the Washington Post: The 222-page civil complaint asks the New York Supreme Court to bar Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from any New York-registered financial institution for five years. It seeks to recover more than $250 million in what James’s office says are ill-gotten gains received through the alleged deceptive practices. While the lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, James said she has referred possible violations of federal law to the Justice Department and the IRS. The lawsuit accuses Trump, his family and Trump Organization executives of employing a wide array of fraudulent maneuvers in their dealings with lenders and regulators despite knowing that they were illegal.
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