What’s happening — and what’s next — in the Mar-a-Lago probe
Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on and where things are headed in the investigation.
“That’s the kind of strategic information that can do tremendous damage,” CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller said Wednesday on “CNN Newsroom.”
Where do things stand right now?
The immediate next steps look like this: The judge ordered Trump’s lawyers to confer with the Justice Department and prepare a joint filing explaining their views on who should serve in the position, what their exact responsibilities should be, how they should be paid, how fast they should do their work and more. The deadline for this major court filing is Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Will the Justice Department appeal?
Cannon’s ruling has been critiqued by a wide array of legal scholars, Trump critics, and even some former Trump allies, who described the decision as an unprecedented hamstringing of a major criminal investigation. (Cannon is a Trump appointee.)
Prosecutors have 30 days since the ruling dropped on Monday to file an appeal. The Justice Department has only publicly said so far that it’s “examining the opinion” and mulling next steps.
“The opinion, I think, was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it,” Barr said Tuesday in a Fox interview. “I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up. But even if it does, I don’t see it fundamentally changing the trajectory. I don’t think it changes the ball game so much, as maybe we’ll have a rain delay for a couple of innings.”
There’s a chance prosecutors will try to move full speed ahead on the special master process, while they simultaneously appeal the part of Cannon’s ruling that blocked criminal investigators from doing anything with the fruits of their Mar-a-Lago search, like showing them to a grand jury.
What is the political fallout?
We’re in uncharted territory, and the political fallout isn’t clear yet. Both sides see an opening, but centrist voters seem to have sided against Trump as it relates to the Mar-a-Lago affair.
On the other side, it’s possible that the investigation could give a boost to Democrats, who have used the probe to attack Trump and raise the prospect of him possibly getting indicted or jailed.
Politically speaking, the reaction has been predictable. Polling indicates that most Republicans have Trump’s back in the investigation, while most Democrats think he broke the law. So, it’s more insightful to analyze how independent voters are assessing the fast-moving investigation.