Donald Trump is currently fighting legal battles on several fronts, and things are not going well for him. Also in the dispute over the secret government documents that the FBI confiscated in his private residence, there is now an unpleasant verdict for him.
Former US President Donald Trump has suffered a defeat in a federal appeals court in a dispute over official documents confiscated from his villa. The court in Atlanta, Georgia rejected Trump's efforts to prevent investigators from evaluating the confiscated documents. It also found that the search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago luxury home in Florida did not violate the ex-president's rights.
"It is indeed exceptional for a search warrant to be executed on the home of a former President," the Court of Appeals said. However, this does not give the judiciary "the right to interfere in an ongoing investigation". The search was not illegal.
The appeals court unanimously overturned an earlier decision by a Florida judge to appoint a special assessor to review the documents. This had complicated and slowed down the investigators' work. The district court had no authority to prohibit the state from using lawfully seized documents in criminal investigations, the ruling said.
FBI investigators searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and confiscated thousands of documents. These are papers that Trump took with him from the White House at the end of his term in office, although outgoing presidents are required to turn over all official records to the National Archives. During the raid in Mar-a-Lago, dozens of files marked as "top secret", "secret" or "confidential" were confiscated. According to media reports, a top-secret document on another country's nuclear weapons was also found on Trump's premises.
The ex-president is suspected of violating an espionage law that sets strict standards for the retention of national security documents. US Presidents are required to hand over all official documents, including emails and letters, to the National Archives upon leaving office. Trump describes the raid as politically motivated. He accuses President Joe Biden's Democrats of abusing the judiciary.
The verdict on the confiscated documents is the second setback for Trump's lawyers within a few days. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the former US President must make his tax documents available to Congress. Trump had refused to release it for years.