Federal judge appoints special master to analyze documents seized in Mar-a-Lago

Federal judge appoints special master to analyze documents seized in Mar-a-Lago

A federal judge has appointed a special master to review documents the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida property, while denying the Department of Justice continued access to about 100 classified documents for use in its criminal investigation.

In an order on Thursday, US District Judge Aileen Cannon appointed Raymond J. Dearie, a senior US district judge for the Eastern District of New York, to review all materials seized on Aug. 8. officials had already signaled their approval to him as a potential arbitrator to determine whether any of the documents are protected by attorney-client or executive privileges.

The Justice Department had asked the judge’s earlier motion to be stayed so that it could continue to review the seized documents for use in a criminal investigation. Cannon has denied that request, saying she is not prepared to accept all of the department’s claims without the special master review process.

“The Court does not consider it appropriate to accept the government’s findings on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in a speedy and orderly manner,” Cannon wrote in the Thursday night ruling.

The Justice Department argued that the Sept. 5 order prevented the intelligence community from reviewing any national security risks posed by improper storage of documents.

Cannon on Thursday, however, insisted that his order did not restrict the administration from continuing to review seized materials for intelligence classification and national security assessments or from informing members of Congress.

The order, she said, blocked the government “from continuing to use the content of the seized materials for criminal investigation purposes,” such as presenting the materials to a grand jury and using them for witness interviews for a criminal investigation pending the recommendations of Dearie.

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The government will likely contest Thursday’s decision. The Justice Department said in a court filing last week that it would appeal Cannon’s earlier order to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Documents seized in Mar-a-Lago recently.
Documents seized in Mar-a-Lago recently.US District Court, Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division

Dearie, a former federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, was among two candidates recommended by Trump’s legal team for the position of special master. The Justice Department, which had proposed two candidates of its own, later approved Dearie for the position.

Cannon set out the Special Master’s duties to include performing a “privilege review” of the documents and checking them against the estate’s inventory, as well as making recommendations on personal items, documents, and presidential records that may be in dispute between the parts.

Cannon said the special master would also be responsible for evaluating any complaints about the return of goods.

The judge set a November 30 deadline for Dearie to complete his review and ratings.

and Dilanian contributed.

Source : www.nbcnews.com

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