October 3, 2022
Judge agrees to name ‘special master’ to review items seized in Trump search

Washington — A federal judge on Monday agreed to appoint a neutral third party known as a Special Master to review items seized by the FBI during its search at the South Florida residence of former President Donald Trump, and justice restrained the department from continuing to use the material in its investigation. While the review is in progress.

US District Judge Eileen Cannon said 24 page order That the Special Master will be tasked with reviewing the confiscated property for “potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege”. In the meantime, the government should “temporarily” stop “reviewing and using the confiscated material for the purposes of investigation until the completion of the Special Master’s review or further court order”.

But Canon allowed the government to continue reviewing and using the confiscated materials for “the purposes of intelligence classification and national security assessment.”

Citing a report from an FBI team tasked with reviewing documents for those who may have been privileged, Cannon wrote that the material seized from Mar-a-Lago included “medical documents, related to taxes, Contains correspondence and accounting information.”

“In addition to being deprived of potentially important personal documents, that alone creates a real harm,” Trump faces “disproportionate potential harm through improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” she wrote.

“As a function of plaintiff’s prior status as President of the United States, the stigma attached to subject forfeiture is in a league of its own,” Cannon wrote in his order. “Future indictment, by virtue of any degree on the property to be returned, would result in reputational damages of a decidedly different order of magnitude.”

Trump’s lawyers and Justice Department lawyers have until September 9 to “meaningfully honor” and submit a joint filing to the court with proposed details of the mechanics of the review proposed to serve as special master. Contains a list of candidates.

Trump’s request for a special master came two weeks after the FBI executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago estate on August 8, when agents took 33 items from a storage room on the property and the former president’s office. . More than 100 documents with classification markings were found in 13 boxes or containers, while three documents with “confidential” and “secret” classification markings were taken from desks in Trump’s office in Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department said in a final report. month disclosed in the filing.

The FBI also found 48 empty folders containing “classified” banners with newspaper and magazine articles, books and pieces of clothing placed in boxes or containers retrieved from the storage room. detailed list The property taken from Mar-a-Lago was made public last week.

former President argued An independent third party must be appointed to protect his constitutional rights and told the court last month that the FBI had taken “presumably privileged” documents from his time in office. Trump has also criticized the Justice Department for an “unprecedented, unnecessary and legally unsupported” search of his assets, and claims sensitive records were brought with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. The presidency is “their own presidential record”.

But the Justice Department, which opposed the appointment of a special master, told the court that the documents confiscated by the FBI were not for Trump to keep but belonged to the federal government and returned them to the National Archives and Records Administration. Should have gone end of administration.

Federal prosecutors also argued that a special master was unnecessary because an FBI filter team — through which individual documents may have been privileged — was isolated. already completed a review Regarding records that may be covered by attorney-client or executive privileges.

Investigators are probing Trump’s handling of classified material, specifically records he brought from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he stepped down in January 2021, as well as potential impediments to the investigation.

The investigation began in February from a referral made by the archives, when it obtained 15 boxes containing the presidential records from Mar-a-Lago following attempts to retrieve the documents. spread month, According to the Justice Department, FBI agents conducted a preliminary review of the boxes in May and found 184 documents containing the classification markings.

in one Extraordinary 36-page court filing Submitted on August 30, federal prosecutors said the government had developed evidence that Trump had “received and served a grand jury subpoena for any documents seized by the Justice Department from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago”. Government records were hidden and removed”. classification mark. He also alleged that “attempts were made to obstruct” the Justice Department’s investigation.

Canon last week heard Trump’s request for a special master, but declined to issue a decision from the bench. However, he was ordered to release a detailed list of assets confiscated by the FBI during its search at Mar-a-Lago, which was made public on Friday, along with the government’s details of the status of its review.

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