U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Donald Trump appointee, has backtracked on her previous ruling in favor of the former president on Thursday, just hours after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued a scathing rebuke of her ruling and accused her of abusing her discretion.
The three-judge panel that includes two Trump appointees, criticized arguments made by the former president’s lawyers, who wanted the DOJ to be forced to stop its probe into Trump’s decision to allegedly keep top secret government documents stashed at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
In a unanimous ruling, the judges granted the Justice Department a reprieve from Cannon’s order barring them from reviewing documents with classified markings seized from Mar-a-Lago, repeatedly rejecting not just the Trump legal team’s lack of arguments, but also, Cannon’s acceptance of them and suggesting it was “inexplicable that Cannon ruled for Trump even by her own logic.”
In their decision, the judges noted that Trump “has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents.”
The judges also wrote: “Here, the district court concluded that (Trump) did not show that the United States acted in callous disregard of his constitutional rights. No party contests the district court’s finding in this regard. The absence of this ‘indispensab(le)’ factor.… is reason enough to conclude that the district court abused its discretion in exercising equitable jurisdiction here.”
Following the three-judge panel ruling, Cannon amended her previous order to state that the seized material subject to a special master review no longer includes the “approximately one-hundred documents bearing classification markings.”