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Supreme Court rejects Trump request on Mar-a-Lago search

The decision ends a small slice of the larger legal drama around the search of the former president's property in Florida

Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is seen last month.
Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is seen last month. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined Donald Trump’s request to have the justices intervene in a dispute with the Justice Department over documents marked as classified that were seized at Mar-a-Lago in August.

Justice Clarence Thomas had referred the former president’s appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to the full court, which declined to take up the case in a one-page order. No individual justices noted how they voted or wrote to explain the decision.

The decision essentially ends a small slice of the larger legal drama around the search of Trump’s property in Florida and the government documents the FBI collected there. Earlier this week, the DOJ asked the justices not to take the case as it continues to play out in the courts below.

The Justice Department, in a filing at the Supreme Court, said the government is challenging what it calls an “unprecedented” district court order that restricted its ability to investigate a potential crime with national security implications.

The DOJ filing also said that Trump “does not acknowledge, much less attempt to rebut, the court of appeals’ conclusion that the district court’s order was a serious and unwarranted intrusion on the Executive Branch’s authority to control the use and distribution of extraordinarily sensitive government records.”

Thursday’s action by the court allows the sprawling dispute to play out in three places: the Atlanta-based appellate court, with a special master based in New York and a federal district court judge in Florida.

Trump sought the Supreme Court’s help after the 11th Circuit sided with the government in a request to lift part of an order from the judge in Florida.

The appeals court ruled that Judge Aileen Cannon likely erred when she ordered the government not to use classified documents found in the search and send them to a special master.

The Justice Department has a separate, pending appeal before the 11th Circuit seeking to reverse Cannon’s order in its entirety.

The unprecedented search of the former president’s club came after more than 18 months of wrangling, with the National Archives and Records Administration seeking the return of government documents Trump took with him at the end of the term.

According to court documents, federal agents sought a search warrant in August after receiving evidence that Trump kept classified records at Mar-a-Lago. Court documents released after the search showed agents seized 11 sets of documents marked with some form of classification, and in later court filings the parties said there are about 100 classified documents in total.

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