A federal court in Florida dismissed former President Donald Trump’s complaint against the FBI for searching his private club, Mar-a-Lago, for classified government records.
After his presidency ended, Trump launched a court challenge to halt the federal criminal investigation into his possession of secret government materials.
The president won a brief success in front of the district court judge he chose, but an appeals court last month rejected the case, ruling that the judge had overstepped her authority.
The former president did not file an appeal, thereby putting an end to the first major judicial struggle over the highly charged criminal investigation into the former president.
Judge Aileen Cannon, who first found in Trump’s favor in his claim, noted the 11th Circuit opinion in a short order dismissing the case.
The three-judge panel found in a unanimous appellate opinion announced earlier this month that Cannon should never have taken the case in the first place.
“This appeal requires us to consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to block the United States from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation,” the opinion said. “The answer is no.”
Throughout the dispute, Trump claimed that the Biden administration used the Justice Department to target a political rival. Cannon originally ruled in Trump’s favor, halting the federal investigation and sending papers found during the search to an independent special master for examination. The DOJ filed an appeal.
After Trump declared his presidential candidacy for 2024 last month, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland delegated the investigation to Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith, a former war crimes prosecutor. Smith filed documents in the search case expressing his support for the DOJ’s strategy.
According to court records published since the August raid, investigators found thousands of government documents at the club, including around 100 with some type of classified marks.
These records also revealed that the FBI was looking into probable espionage statute crimes, as well as mishandling and destruction of government documents.