Former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance appeared Tuesday on MSNBC to explain the latest Department of Justice filing in the battle over classified documents stored at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
"It says, this application concerns an unprecedented order by the district court, that's Aileen Cannon, restricting the executive branch's use of its own highly classified records in an ongoing criminal investigation and directing the dissemination of those records out for a special master review," said host Nicolle Wallace, reading the first page of the case.
The government got a warrant based on probable cause, searched Mar-a-Lago, and went to get the documents back.
"We forget this is all about crimes, but there was probable cause to believe that Donald Trump committed and mounting evidence, including some brand new reporting in The New York Times today about lawyer Christina Bobb, of his obstruction of justice crimes, as well," Wallace explained.
The most important thing for folks to understand, Vance said, is that what Trump is appealing isn't all that interesting when it compares to what he isn't appealing. He isn't appealing the Justice Department's ability to conduct the criminal case using the documents.
"What here what we have in court, and the argument that DOJ is making, is that this amounts to an absolutely unprecedented effort to interfere with a criminal investigation," said Vance. "We have a search warrant dually issued by a judge after a showing of probable cause that evidence of crime would be found in the location to be searched. And gee, guess what, the FBI shows up and what do they find? Evidence of crime. Just what the probable cause said would be there."
Trump is just asking that the documents be given back to him during the special master's review.
"Why would they want to do that while permitting the criminal investigation to proceed? Well, it seems likely that they're still trying to figure out what was in those documents," Vance continued. "They want visibility on what the government has managed to reclaim from Trump. And there's a very inside baseball argument about jurisdiction, but the government most likely has the better part of that argument."
At the same time, she said, Trump hasn't been able to find any real "damage" that he's suffered as a result of this case and that his rights would be violated if the case moves forward and the 11th Circuit Court decision is stayed. The 11th Circuit Court refuted Judge Aileen Cannon's decision, saying that the judicial branch couldn't block the executive branch from accessing its own documents.
Trump "has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents," the three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
So, with this filing, "essentially, DOJ says, let the stay remain in place, Trump has no basis for setting it aside."
Vance went on to predict that this case would likely end up on the controversial "shadow docket," where the justices will ultimately decide they're not interested, and the 11th Circuit can continue with the work.
She also noted that it might not even go that far and Clarence Thomas could dismiss it outright. Wallace said that she doubts Thomas would ever do something like that as Thomas has long supported Trump when no other Supreme Court justice would.
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