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Judge Dismisses Trump's Case Challenging Mar-A-Lago Document Seizure After Appeals Court Ends Special Master Review

Marco Bello | Reuters
  • President Donald Trump's lawsuit challenging the government's access to materials seized from his Florida resort home was formally dismissed.
  • Judge Aileen Cannon's order came after Trump declined to appeal a higher-court ruling that stopped a special master from reviewing the materials taken in the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago.
  • The raid turned up more than 100 documents bearing classified markings.

A federal judge on Monday dismissed former President Donald Trump's lawsuit challenging the government's access to materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort, marking the formal end to Trump's monthslong legal fight following the FBI's raid of his home.

The judge's order came four days after Trump declined to appeal a higher-court ruling that canceled the appointment of a special master to review the thousands of items taken by federal agents during an Aug. 8 raid of Trump's Florida residence.

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, signed a one-page order dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction. The order, filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, also terminated all hearings, deadlines and motions that were still pending in the case. That includes Trump's effort to obtain an unredacted version of the search warrant affidavit that was used to sanction the raid.

A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Cannon in September had appointed retired Judge Raymond Dearie as special master, while she blocked the Justice Department from reviewing the seized materials as part of a criminal investigation.

The Mar-a-Lago raid turned up more than 100 documents bearing classified markings. A team hired by Trump found more records marked classified outside of the resort, multiple outlets recently reported. Last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel to oversee an ongoing criminal probe into Trump's removal of hundreds of documents from the White House.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled Dec. 1 that Cannon should not have appointed the special master, writing that she "improperly exercised" an expansion of her jurisdiction.

"Dismissal of the entire proceeding is required," read the opinion of the panel, which included two judges appointed by Trump.

"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. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so," the judges wrote.

The panel gave the former president one week to seek a stay of its ruling by filing an appeal to the full circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump's attorneys did not file an appeal.

They had already faced rejection from the Supreme Court as part of the case: The high court in October batted away Trump's request to reverse a prior ruling from the 11th Circuit, which had barred the special master from examining the classified documents.

Last week's ruling from the appeals court could clear a path for federal investigators to more quickly review the thousands of items they had previously been blocked from accessing.

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