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Judge OK's Trump Bid For Special Master In Mar-a-Lago Records Case

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

A federal judge granted former President Trump's request for a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home and halted the Justice Department’s use of the records for investigative purposes, reports the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon authorized an outside legal expert to review the records taken in the Aug. 8 search and to weed out any that might be protected by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Some records may be returned to Trump. The Justice Department said a special master was not necessary, saying officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. DOJ may appeal the decision, which likely slows the investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago.

It is not clear that the decision will have a significant effect on the probe's outcome. “While this is a victory for the former President, it is by no means an overwhelming win for him,” said David Weinstein, a Florida criminal defense lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor. “While it is a setback for the government, it is also not a devastating loss for them.” The department and Trump’s lawyers must submit by Friday a list of proposed special master candidates. Trump’s lawyers argued that a special master — usually an outside lawyer or former judge — was necessary to ensure an independent review of records taken during the search and so any personal information or documents could be returned to Trump. Though prosecutors had 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 the issue and will allow the special master to look for records that might be covered by that privilege.


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