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Trump Mar-a-Lago trial ends after former president refuses to appeal ruling

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump on Thursday declined to appeal a court order ending his lawsuit challenging the FBI’s seizure of documents from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, paving the way for investigators to finally get your hands on most of the documents collected in the search.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week dismissed the lawsuit he filed after the August 8 search. The appeals court overturned U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order appointing a special master to examine the trove of documents recovered by federal agents and barring the government from using them in its investigation into Trump’s possession of documents sensitive.

The appeals court had given Trump until Thursday to appeal to the full 11th Circuit or Supreme Court and try to get a stay before the order takes effect. No appeal has been filed.

While Trump’s team had little hope of overturning the decision, the decision not to attempt an appeal – which was first reported by CNN – is somewhat surprising. After the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, a senior Trump adviser familiar with his legal strategy said Trump would likely make “any appeal to the Supreme Court,” adding, “We’re fighting everything.”

Lifting restrictions on the Justice Department investigation could allow investigators to move forward with the investigation more quickly, finally allowing them to review thousands of pages of documents that had been withheld from them pending a review of questions of privilege by the special master.

The appeals court had overturned part of Cannon’s order that barred investigators from using recovered classified documents in the search for their criminal investigation. He also barred the special master from reviewing those documents, a decision Trump appealed to the Supreme Court in October and lost.

Trump argued in court that he had a personal interest in the documents and that he might be able to assert attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Outside the courtroom, in comments not picked up by his lawyers, Trump made various arguments as to why he believes the seized documents belong to him while simultaneously accusing the FBI of planting evidence. He also claimed that as president he had the power to declassify documents.

Federal agents seized about 11,000 records, including about 100 marked classified, from Trump’s Florida resort over concerns he illegally kept official White House documents after leaving office.

Under federal law, official White House records are federal property and must be turned over to the National Archives when a president leaves office.

Cannon appointed Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of Brooklyn, New York, to review the documents in September after Trump’s team argued they could not rely on the department’s screening team of Justice to set aside any privileged document. The screening team is separate from the investigators who conduct the criminal investigation.

The Justice Department objected to appointing a special master to review documents for executive privilege and attorney-client matters, saying he interfered with its criminal investigation into the seizure of documents .

Last week, the three-judge federal appeals court panel, including two Trump-appointed justices, decisively rejected Trump’s arguments and said Cannon had no authority to grant his request. special master.

“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the warrant is executed. Nor can we write a rule that only allows former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reorganization of our jurisprudence limiting the involvement of federal courts in criminal investigations. And both would violate fundamental limits of the separation of powers,” the panel wrote.

“As a result, we agree with the government that the district court erroneously exercised equitable jurisdiction and that a dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”

Trump hasn’t had much success on the Supreme Court since leaving office in January 2021. Although the court has a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump-appointed justices, it lost all four recent previous cases in which he requested urgency. relief, including a fight for the special master’s access to classified documents that are part of the Justice Department’s investigation. The court also denied his attempt to prevent the release of White House documents to the House committee on Jan. 6 and his attempt to avoid disclosing his financial records to New York prosecutors.

The most recent defeat came last month, when the court allowed disclosure of Trump’s tax returns to a Democratic-led House committee.

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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