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MASTER INSERVIENT: Another day, another huge loss for Trump

MASTER INSERVIENT: Another day, another huge loss for Trump

MASTER INSERVIENT: Another day, another huge loss for Trump

In a decision that was just as much a slap down of Donald Trump’s attorneys’ specious arguments as it was a ruling, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a previous order from Judge Aileen Cannon appointing a special master to review documents seized in the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August in order to recover potentially highly secretive government documents.

The court was highly critical of Cannon, stating in its unanimous opinion, that the restraint imposed by Cannon “guards against needless judicial intrusion into the course of criminal investigations – a sphere of power committed to the executive branch.”

Many legal scholars were baffled at the time Cannon issue her ruling, wondering what legal basis she had depended on. The panel was proved as baffled.

“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant,” the opinion continued. “Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our case law limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.”

The court also set an unusually short deadline – one week – for Trump’s lawyers to appeal the decision.

Yet it’s unlikely that he’d have any more luck with the Supreme Court – for starters, the Supremes have gone against him twice before recently: once when he wanted to prevent his White House documents from being released by the National Archives, and again when he tried to stop his taxes from being handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee.

More to the point, though, there’s no indication that the Supreme Court would be any more open to Trump’s argument than the 11th Circuit.

If such an argument was allowed to succeed, any criminal could simply place personal items within incriminating ones so that special masters would have to be appointed to sort things out, thereby slowing things up.

Also like the 11th Circuit, they probably would not be persuaded that Trump being a former president puts him in a special category.

Trump’s lawyers had claimed that he had been deprived of certain items by the search, including (no joke) golf shirts and a picture of Celine Dion.

As wonderful as Celine Dion may be, the appeals court did not see this as a cause for disrupting an investigation and interfering with evidence seized through a perfectly legitimate warrant.

Now the investigation into the stolen documents will proceed unencumbered. We’ll see if Trump himself is ever encumbered – by handcuffs.

One can only hope.

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Ross Rosenfeld

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