Former US President Donald Trump suffered a legal defeat in the legal dispute surrounding the investigation into his handling of secret government documents. An appeals court ruled in an order published last night that it was unlawful for Trump to appoint a special agent to review documents seized during a search of the ex-president's private home.
The district court that ruled on the special counsel's appointment did not have the authority to prohibit the state from using lawfully seized documents in criminal investigations, it said. This is a win for the US Department of Justice, which has been investigating Trump for several months.
Trump: Action politically motivated
In August, the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and confiscated various classified information, some with the highest level of secrecy. By keeping the documents in his private home long after Trump left office, he could have committed a criminal offense. It is still unclear whether Trump could ultimately be charged.
Trump criticizes the authorities' actions against him as politically motivated and sees it as an attempt to prevent him from moving back into the White House. The Republican has since officially announced that he wants to run again as a candidate for his party in the 2024 presidential election. Whether the Republicans will ultimately make him their presidential candidate remains to be seen.
Trump also took legal action to defend himself against the investigation of the government documents: in court he had fought to appoint the special representative to review the seized documents - and to stop the authorities from viewing the documents until then. Both have now been overturned by the decision of the Court of Appeal.