Judge awards Trump's offer for a private master's in document search

Judge awards Trump’s offer for a private master’s in document search

Washington (AFP) – In a legal victory for former President Donald Trump, a federal judge on Monday granted his request for a private master to review documents the FBI seized from his Florida home and temporarily halted the Justice Department’s use of the records for the investigation. purposes.

U.S. District Judge Eileen Cannon’s ruling authorizes an outside legal expert to review records taken during the August 8 search and dispose of the remainder of the investigation, which may be protected by a claim of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Some of those records may eventually be returned to Trump, but the judge has delayed ruling on this question.

The order came despite fierce objections from the Justice Department, which said the special tutor was not necessary in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. On Monday, the ministry said it was reviewing the decision but did not say if and when it would appeal.

It almost certainly slows the pace of the Department’s investigation into the presence of highly classified information in Mar-a-Lago, especially given the judge’s directive that the Department of Justice may not currently use any of the seized materials as part of an investigation into the storage of government secrets in the ownership of Florida. An injunction is in effect until an as-yet-named private master has completed his or her work, or until “another court order.”

The Trump-appointed Cannon books are in their 24-page order.

However, it is not clear whether the decision will constitute a long-term impediment to the progress of the investigation or will significantly affect the investigation’s decisions or the final outcome of the investigation. A separate assessment by the US intelligence community of the risks posed by the apparent mishandling of classified records will continue to be ordered by a judge.

“While this is a victory for the former president, it is by no means a landslide victory for him,” David Weinstein, a Florida criminal defense attorney and former attorney general for the Department of Justice, said in an email. While this is a setback for the government, it is also not a devastating loss for them.

He noted, for example, that the judge did not immediately order the return of the seized documents to Trump or suppress any of the evidence.

“The United States is considering the opinion and will consider appropriate next steps in the ongoing lawsuit,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Cooley said Monday. Trump’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The department and Trump’s lawyers are due by Friday to present a list of proposed special key candidates.

FBI agents in August seized nearly 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items from Mar-a-Lago as part of a criminal investigation into the retention of national defense information there, as well as in efforts to obstruct the investigation. About 100 documents contained hashtags.

Trump’s lawyers argued that a private master, usually an outside attorney or former judge, was necessary to ensure an independent review of records taken during the search and so that any personal information or documents could be filtered and returned to Trump.

The judge’s order in this case stated that the seized records “include medical documents, tax correspondence, and accounting information.”

Cannon said it was too early to know whether Trump was entitled to return any of the records, but “at the present time, the circumstances surrounding the forfeiture in this case and the associated need for adequate procedural safeguards are sufficiently binding to obtain at least at least the plaintiff before the doors of Court”.

She also said she found his lawyer’s arguments convincing that he had faced “irreparable harm” by denying him access to records that might be of great personal importance to him. She said the investigation process, so far, had been “closed” to him.

“As a function of the prosecutor’s previous position as President of the United States, the stigma attached to appropriating the subject is in itself,” Cannon wrote. “Any future indictment, based to what degree to which property should be returned, would damage reputation an order of magnitude different.”

The Department of Justice argued against the appointment, saying it was unnecessary because it had already reviewed potentially privileged documents and identified a limited subset that could be covered by attorney-client privilege.

Management was using a separate “franchise review team” for this work, but Cannon cited at least two cases where members of the investigation team “exposed” potentially franchise material, something that it said raised questions about the adequacy of the process.

The department also said that Trump does not have the right to return any of the presidential records that were taken because he is no longer president and therefore the documents do not belong to him. The department said the personal items recovered were mixed with classified information, giving it potential probative value.

Although prosecutors argued that Trump, as a former president, had no legal basis to assert executive privilege over the documents, the judge said he was entitled to raise this as a concern and allowed the special lord to search for records that might be involved. This privilege.

“I think the main sticking point is that the executive privilege documents were included” in the judge’s decision, said Richard Serafini, a Florida criminal defense attorney, a former attorney general for the Department of Justice.

Cannon, who was nominated by Trump in 2020, indicated last month that she was inclined to appoint a special master and did so again during discussions last week, asking at one point, “In the end, what’s the harm in appointing a special official? Sir to sort these problems without Causing unnecessary delay?”


Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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