Raymond Dearie, with no apparent connection or loyalty to former President Trump, was appointed special master to review records the FBI seized from Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago. This is was a positive development for Trump, whose lawyers recommended him. Lawyers and advisers to the former president believe Dearie's role on the secretive court that approved controversial warrants used to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 made Dearie a deep skeptic of the FBI. As special master, Dearie will vet more than 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago for both attorney-client privilege and executive privilege to determine if any material was improperly swept up in the search, reports Axios. His appointment could, at a minimum, delay the Justice Department's investigation into the former president. The department has argued that such a delay could harm U.S. national security because of the sensitive nature of the highly classified documents Trump improperly kept at Mar-a-Lago.
Dearie, whom former President Reagan appointed to the federal bench in 1986, is widely respected in the legal community. Since the announcement, Dearie has even received praise from Trump enemies. Andrew Weissmann, a former lead prosecutor in the Russia investigation who appeared before Dearie early in his career, told the New York Times that Dearie was "a fair-minded, smart judge who has a ton of common sense..." U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee in the Southern District of Florida, did not face pressure to reject Dearie as she would have with a recommendation of someone seen as a Trump loyalist. Dearie was not on the Justice Department's list of recommended special masters, but the DOJ accepted the recommendation from Trump's team due to his "previous federal judicial experience and engagement in relevant areas of law." Cannon said Dearie will need to complete his review of materials by Nov. 30 — a timeline closer to the Trump team's suggestion than to DOJ's proposed deadline of Oct. 17. Cannon asked Dearie to submit interim reports and recommendations on documents before his entire review is complete. In granting the request for special master, Cannon temporarily barred law enforcement agencies from accessing the material for their investigation of Trump's handling of the documents.