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In a major setback for Trump, an appeals court ends the special master's review of seized Mar-a-Lago records

The panel said Judge Aileen Cannon’s order appointing an arbiter and preventing the government from using a trove of documents retrieved on Aug. 8 was incorrect.

Image: Mar-a-Lago
An aerial view of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 31, 2022.Steve Helber / AP file
By Zoë Richards and Daniel Barnes

A federal appeals court Thursday ruled that a judge’s order appointing a special master to review documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort should be dismissed.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit lifts earlier restrictions on the Justice Department’s examination of classified documents and other records and will allow investigators to proceed with the probe more quickly.

The panel said that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order in September to appoint an arbiter and prevent the government from using a trove of documents it retrieved from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Aug. 8 was incorrect.

"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," the panel wrote. "Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required."

In September, Cannon named Raymond J. Dearie, a senior U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York, to review all of the materials seized.

Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.

Daniel Barnes reports for NBC News, based in Washington.