A federal judge in Florida approved Donald Trump’s request to appoint a special master to independently review records obtained during the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.
The move marks a significant victory for the former President, allowing an independent party to review the documents and assess any attorney/client or executive privilege that may exist.
“The Court hereby authorizes the appointment of a special master to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege,” an order from Judge Aileen Cannon states.
Judge Cannon was nominated by Trump and approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate in 2020.
Cannon’s order also “temporarily enjoins” the government from “reviewing and using the seized materials” pending the completion of the review.
Still, the judge writes, the order “shall not impede the classification review and/or intelligence assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) as described in the Government’s Notice of Receipt of Preliminary Order.”
Donald Trump filed a lawsuit just over two weeks ago requesting the special master to review the documents, as well as alleging his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated during an FBI raid his lawyers described as a “shockingly aggressive move.”
Trump had claimed the agents involved in the raid demanded security cameras be turned off and “took documents covered by attorney-client and executive privilege.”
The Political Insider has mentioned an allegation that the FBI raid on Trump’s home was specifically targeting the former President’s “private stash” of hidden documents, including those he believed would “exonerate” him from claims of Russia collusion.
Trump touted his efforts in fighting back against the “corrupt” FBI and DOJ on his Truth Social media platform.
“Remember, it takes courage and ‘guts’ to fight a totally corrupt Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI,” he wrote. “They are being pushed to do the wrong things by many sinister and evil outside sources.”
“Until impartiality, wisdom, fairness, and courage are shown by them, our Country can never come back or recover — it will be reduced to being a Third World Nation!”
At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania over the weekend, he accused the FBI of being “vicious monsters” who “are trying to silence” him.
All signs point to a significant Trump victory in the special master court ruling.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley points out that Attorney General Merrick Garland fought against having the special master appointed which he argues “would have ended speculation about a pretextual search aimed at finding incriminating evidence of other crimes.”
Many conservative pundits have speculated that the search was actually an effort to rope in evidence of a crime regarding the Capitol riot.
Federal prosecutors vehemently argued in court against the appointment of a special master, suggesting it would delay their investigation.
The Justice Department, in a response to Trump’s petition for the special master, provided a photo which was then publicly circulated showing documents purportedly taken from Mar-a-Lago.
The image showed papers strewn on the floor – seemingly by FBI agents themselves – with coversheets indicating there were documents labeled “top secret.”
Former FBI Deputy Director and current CNN pundit Andrew McCabe even admitted the special master ruling was a “Huge win” for Trump.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy concurred.
“It’s a big win for the Trump team and a potentially explosive ruling if it holds. I would imagine it’s important enough that the government will appeal this immediately,” he predicted.
McCarthy notes the potential to taint the entire investigation remains, remarking that agents have been pouring through the documents as if they are appropriate for the investigation, even as a federal judge is now saying there may be executive privilege attached to them.
The judge pointed out that the FBI raid netted some personal effects “without evidentiary value,” adding this consists of “upwards of 500 pages of material potentially subject to attorney-client privilege.”
Cannon also referenced documents uncovered by the Justice Department’s ‘Privilege Review Team’ that shows agents seized items including “medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information.”
“In addition to being deprived of potentially significant personal documents, which alone creates a real harm, Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” she wrote.
Her ruling slows down the fast-moving investigation into the former President, one which many of his detractors hope will result in an indictment for improperly handling classified materials.
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