- U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie is a senior judge for the Eastern District of New York.
- Dearie served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
A federal judge on Thursday night appointed Raymond Dearie, a former chief federal judge from Brooklyn who also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to be the special master reviewing documents seized from the former president’s Florida estate. Donald Trump.
But U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon refused to lift her temporary ban on the Justice Department reviewing documents for its criminal investigation. The ministry appealed this part of its decision.
Cannon appointed Dearie at Trump’s request for an independent review of thousands of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, including dozens marked “secret” or “top secret.”
Cannon ordered Trump to pay 100% of the exam fee. It also granted access to all documents, including classified files, under controlled access conditions.
The Justice Department, which had opposed a special master’s degree as unnecessary, accepted Dearie because of his background in national security cases and attorney-client confidentiality issues.
But Cannon would not allow the Justice Department to continue its review of about 100 classified documents while the special master does his review. The FBI had searched Mar-a-Lago on August 8 for evidence of mishandling of national defense records under the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice.
“Indeed, if the Court were prepared to accept the Government’s representations that parts of the materials seized are – without exception – the property of the Government not subject to any lien, and did not think that a special master would serve a meaningful purpose, the Court would have denied plaintiff’s special principal claim,” Cannon wrote.
Prosecutors had argued that their criminal review was urgent because the documents contained national security secrets. But Cannon said she was not persuaded to deal with the documents piecemeal or to trust the government’s characterization of the records.
“First, there has been no real suggestion by the government of any identifiable emergency or impending disclosure of classified information resulting from the claimant’s allegedly unlawful retention of seized property,” Cannon wrote.
The government appealed the part of its decision that halts their investigation to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
FBI agents found 11,000 documents, including 54 marked “secret” and 18 “top secret”. Another 48 empty folders had “classified banners” and 42 folders were marked with “Return to Secretary of Staff/Military Auxiliary”.
Trump’s lawyers argued there was “no indication that any alleged ‘classified documents’ have been leaked to anyone” and said the Secret Service was guarding Mar-a-Lago.
But former national security officials told USA TODAY that the highly sensitive categories of documents found at Mar-a-Lago would generally only be read in government-authorized secure rooms and then locked in a safe. Federal authorities said there were no government-sanctioned rooms for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the search scanned communications between him and attorneys that investigators should not have access to under solicitor-client privilege. The government has identified 520 pages that fall under possible privilege. Cannon ruled that an independent review by a special master would bring greater fairness to Trump.
Dearie is a senior district judge in the Eastern District of New York, which includes Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Dearie was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 after serving four years as a US attorney in the district.