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Monday, March 27, 2023

Judge Grants Trump’s Request to Appoint Special Master to Review Mar-a-Lago Documents

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A federal judge on Monday granted former President Trump’s request to appoint an independent special master to review materials the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence last month.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, dismissed objections from the Department of Justice (DOJ), blocking prosecutors from further reviewing or using the seized documents in their investigation until the special master completes their review.

Cannon asked the DOJ and Trump’s attorneys to submit a joint filing by Friday that includes a proposed special master candidate list.

Trump has accused the FBI and DOJ of executing the search for political purposes, also claiming that some of the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.

The DOJ had argued in court that a special master appointment would stall its investigation of Trump and that he did not have the authority to claim executive privilege from his time in the White House since he is no longer in office.

“With respect to the Government’s ongoing criminal investigation, the Court does not find that a temporary special master review under the present circumstances would cause undue delay,” Cannon wrote in the ruling.

The FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Aug. 8 came as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and two other statutes. Agents recovered 33 boxes containing more than 100 classified records, although the potential violations do not rely on the documents being classified.

Raising concerns about privileged materials seized in the search, Trump demanded the appointment of a special master two weeks later. Cannon previously announced her preliminary intent to grant the request.

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