A federal judge on Monday granted a request from former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home last month and also temporarily halted the use of records by the Department of Justice for investigative purposes.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision came over objections from the Justice Department, which said an outside legal expert was not needed in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. . The judge previously flagged her tendency to endorse a special master, asking a department attorney during closing arguments this month, “What’s the harm?”
The appointment is likely to slow the pace of the department’s investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago given the judge’s directive that the Justice Department cannot use any of the documents at this time. seized for investigation. But it’s not clear that this will have a significant effect on investigative decisions or the final outcome of the investigation.
Cannon, who was nominated to the bench by Trump in 2020, said she would allow a risk assessment of the documents by the US intelligence community to continue.
Trump’s attorneys had argued that a special master — usually an outside attorney or former judge — was needed to ensure an independent review of the records taken in the Aug. 8 search. Such a review was necessary, they said, so that any personal information or documents recovered by the FBI could be screened and returned to Trump and any documents protected by solicitor-client privilege or executive privilege could also be screened. be separated from the rest. of the investigation.
The Justice Department had objected to the appointment, saying it was unnecessary since it had already reviewed potentially confidential documents and identified a limited subset of documents that may be covered by attorney-client privilege. ‘lawyer.
He also said that Trump was not entitled to the return of any of the presidential records that were seized since he is no longer president and therefore the documents do not belong to him. And the personal items that were recovered were mixed with classified information, giving them potential value as evidence, the department said.