Court Appears Ready to End Special Master Review in Trump Files Inquiry

Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer / The New York Times
Court Appears Ready to End Special Master Review in Trump Files Inquiry Former President Donald J. Trump spoke at Mar-a-Lago last week. (photo: Saul Martinez/NYT)

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Two of the three judges had already expressed skepticism about a court’s intervention after the F.B.I. seized records from the ex-president’s home.

A federal appeals court panel signaled on Tuesday that it is likely to end a review of a trove of government documents seized this summer from former President Donald J. Trump, a move that would greatly free up an investigation into his handling of the material.

At a 40-minute hearing in Atlanta, the three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit seemed to embrace the Justice Department’s position that a federal judge had acted improperly two months ago when she ordered an independent arbiter to review the documents taken from Mr. Trump’s Florida compound, Mar-a- Lago.

Through their questions, the panel expressed concern that Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who appointed the so-called special master, had acted without precedent by ordering a review of the seized material. The panel also suggested that Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, had overstepped by inserting herself into the case and trying to bar the government from using the records in its investigation into whether Mr. Trump had illegally kept national security records at Mar-a-Lago and obstructed the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them.


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