In a win for Donald Trump, Judge Aileen Cannon has granted a request from the former president’s legal team to appoint a particular master to examine documents seized in the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The ruling will halt all reviews of the documents by the Justice Department in its criminal investigation.
“The Court hereby authorizes the appointment of a particular master to examine the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material at the mercy of claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege,” the federal judge said in her order Monday. “Furthermore, in natural conjunction with that appointment, and in keeping with the worthiness and sequence of special master procedures, the Court also temporarily enjoins the federal government from reviewing and utilizing the seized materials for investigative purposes pending completion of the special master’s review or further Court order.”
Judge Cannon said that appointment will not impede the ongoing classification review and national security assessments being conducted by the intelligence community.
“THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT may continue steadily to review and utilize the materials seized for purposes of intelligence classification and national security assessments,” Cannon said.
The court, Cannon wrote, is “mindful of the necessity to ensure at the very least the looks of fairness and integrity beneath the extraordinary circumstances presented.”
Pertaining to attorney-client privilege matters, she said, “the Governments argument assumes that the Privilege Review Teams initial screening for potentially privileged material was sufficient, yet there’s evidence that to call that premise into question here.”
She continued, “Without delving into specifics, the Privilege Review Teams Report references at the very least two instances where members of the Investigative Team were subjected to material that has been then sent to the Privilege Review Team and, following another review, designated as potentially privileged material.”
She added, “Those instances alone, even though entirely inadvertent, yield questions concerning the adequacy of the filter review process.”
The judge gave DOJ and Trump’s team until Friday to confer and submit a joint set of proposed special master candidates and a proposed order outlining the special master’s duties and limitations. For the present time, Judge Cannon said she actually is reserving a ruling on whether Trump must have property returned to him that has been seized.
“AMERICA is examining the opinion and can consider appropriate next steps in the ongoing litigation.” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement Monday afternoon but there is no word on whether DOJ will seek to appeal the judge’s order.