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Judge grants Trump bid for special master in document search


Your choice by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon authorizes another legal expert to examine the records taken through the Aug. 8 search.

A full page from the order granting a request by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a particular master to examine documents seized by the FBI throughout a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate is photographed Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Jon Elswick / AP

By ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) In a legal victory for former President Donald Trump, a federal judge on Monday granted his obtain a particular master to examine documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home and temporarily halted the Justice Departments usage of the records for investigative purposes.

Your choice by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon authorizes another legal expert to examine the records taken through the Aug. 8 search also to weed right out of the remaining investigation any that could be protected by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Some of these records may ultimately be returned to Trump, however the judge defer a ruling on that question.

The order came regardless of the strenuous objections of the Justice Department, which said a particular master had not been necessary partly because officials had already completed their overview of potentially privileged documents. The department said Monday that it had been reviewing your choice but didn’t indicate if so when it could appeal.

The order probably slows the pace of the departments investigation in to the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago, particularly given the judges directive that the Justice Department might not for as soon as use the seized materials within its investigation in to the storage of government secrets at the Florida property. The injunction is set up before yet-to-be-named special master completes their work, or until further court order.

The Court is mindful that restraints on criminal prosecutions are disfavored, but finds these unprecedented circumstances require a brief pause to permit for neutral, third-party review to make sure a just process with adequate safeguards, Cannon, a Trump appointee, wrote in her 24-page order.

However, it isn’t clear that your choice will show a long-term impediment to the investigations progress or significantly affect investigative decisions or the best upshot of the probe. And a separate assessment by the U.S. intelligence community of the chance posed by the apparent mishandling of classified records will continue beneath the judges order.

While this can be a victory for the former President, it really is in no way an overwhelming win for him, David Weinstein, a Florida criminal defense lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor, said within an email. Although it is really a setback for the federal government, additionally it is not just a devastating loss for them.

He noted, for example, that the judge didn’t immediately order the seized documents returned to Trump or suppress the evidence.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Monday that america is examining the opinion and can consider appropriate next steps in the ongoing litigation. An attorney for Trump didn’t react to a obtain comment.

The department and Trumps lawyers are to submit by Friday a listing of proposed special master candidates.

FBI agents in August seized roughly 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items from Mar-a-Lago within a criminal investigation in to the retention of national defense information there, in addition to into efforts to obstruct the probe. About 100 of the documents contained classification markings.

Trumps lawyers had argued a special master, usually another lawyer or former judge, was essential to ensure an unbiased overview of records taken through the search therefore that any private information or documents could possibly be filtered out and returned to Trump.

In cases like this, the seized records include medical documents, correspondence linked to taxes, and accounting information, the judges order said.

Cannon said it had been too soon to learn whether Trump will undoubtedly be eligible for the return of the records, but also for now, the circumstances surrounding the seizure in cases like this and the associated dependence on adequate procedural safeguards are sufficiently compelling to at the very least get Plaintiff at night courthouse doors.

She also said she found persuasive his lawyers arguments he faced potentially irreparable injury when you are denied usage of records that could be of significant personal interest to him. She said the investigative process had, up to now, been closed off to him.

As a function of Plaintiffs former position as President of america, the stigma linked to the subject seizure is in a league of its, Cannon wrote. Another indictment, based to any degree on property that should be returned, would bring about reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude.

The Justice Department had argued contrary to the appointment, saying it had been unnecessary since it had already reviewed potentially privileged documents and identified a restricted subset that may be included in attorney-client privilege.

The department have been utilizing a separate privilege review team for that work, but Cannon cited at the very least two instances where members of the investigative team were subjected to potentially privileged material, something she said raised questions concerning the adequacy of the procedure.

The department had also said Trump had not been eligible for the return of the presidential records which were taken since he could be no more president and the documents therefore usually do not participate in him. And personal items which were recovered were commingled with classified information, providing them with potential evidentiary value, the department said.

Though prosecutors had argued that Trump, as a former president, had no legal basis to say executive privilege on the documents, the judge said he was eligible for raise it as a problem and permitted the special master to consider records that could be included in that privilege.

The major sticking point, I believe, is that the executive privilege documents were contained in the judges decision, said Florida criminal defense lawyer Richard Serafini, a former Justice Department prosecutor.

Cannon, who was simply nominated by Trump in 2020, had signaled last month that she was inclined to appoint a particular master and did so again during arguments the other day, asking at one point, Ultimately, what’s the harm in the appointment of a particular master to evaluate these issues without creating undue delay?

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