The US Department of Justice may continue its investigation of classified documents found during a search of Mar-a-Lago, the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump.
A federal judge has ruled that, US media reports.
Another judge, still appointed by Trump, had blocked the investigation until an independent auditor had a chance to review the more than 11,000 government documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. Some of those documents have the highest level of secrecy. The former president later said that he had released the documents in question and was therefore allowed to take them with him.
Pending the decision of the independent inspector appointed last week, Judge Raymond Dearie, the Justice Department can now continue its investigation.
According to the law, material found during the search should have been given to the National Archives. While incumbent presidents have far-reaching powers to release information and breach secrecy, there is a formal, multi-step process. In addition, a president must break secrecy during his term in office. It is unclear whether these documents have gone through that declassification process.
Earlier this week, Dearie had urged Trump’s lawyers to communicate clearly and provide evidence of the secret status of the seized documents.
The Trump criminal investigation will include whether confidential papers were withheld and whether an attempt was made to thwart a federal investigation.