Ten days after an appeals court issued a scathing ruling saying the federal judge who intervened on Donald Trump’s behalf to appoint a special master in the Mar-a-Lago classified-documents case had no authority to do so, the ex-president’s attempt to jam up the investigation into the Justice Department’s criminal probe has come to an end. On Monday, that judge, Aileen Cannon, officially dismissed Trump’s lawsuit challenging the August search of Mar-a-Lago, which had led to the appointment of special master Raymond Dearie and temporarily blocked prosecutors from using the classified documents seized during the FBI search as part of their investigation. In a one-page order, Cannon wrote that she was throwing out the case due to “lack of jurisdiction.” As CNN notes, the move “now gives the Justice Department full access to tens of thousands of records and other items found among documents marked as classified in Trump’s beach club and private office.”
The appeals court ruling, which came earlier this month, was seen as a clear victory for the Justice Department and an obvious defeat for both Trump and Cannon. The opinion, issued by a three-judge panel of conservatives—two of whom were appointed by none other than Trump—excoriated Cannon, calling her installation of the special master a “dramatic and unwarranted” intervention that was not hers to make. As legal journalist Chris Geidner put it, “I would simply not leave the house ever again if a panel of fellow-traveler judges did this to me in an opinion.” In perhaps a sign of just how thoroughly the appeals court upbraided Cannon, and made it clear Trump did not deserve the treatment she afforded him, the ex-president did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which he had the option to do.
Previously, Cannon had delivered major legal wins for Trump, the first one being when she blocked the DOJ from using the classified documents the FBI had seized as part of their probe into the ex-president, and the second one being when she told the ex-president he didn’t have to follow the special master’s orders.
Last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee both the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Trump’s decision to take classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, as well as and key aspects of its investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol. According to CNN, Smith “is moving fast“ on those probes and “has made a series of high-profile moves since he was put in charge last month, including asking a federal judge to hold Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him to turn over records marked classified.” (On Friday, a federal judge declined to do so.) The outlet also reports that while some within Trumpworld view Smith’s appointment as a positive development for Trump’s freedom, others are worried he was brought in as a “hit man” and is likely to indict the ex-president.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that lawyers for Trump had uncovered “at least two [additional] items marked classified after an outside team hired by Trump searched a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., used by the former president.” (The unit also reportedly contained boxes of “suits and swords and wrestling belts,” among other things.) For his part, Trump has spent months claiming all classified documents in his possession had been returned to the government, which was obviously not true.