The Justice Department faces partly conflicting goals as it weighs how to proceed in its inquiry into the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the Wall Street Journal reports. A federal judge in Florida ordered the appointment of a special master to review documents seized from former President Trump's Florida resort and temporarily blocked the government from using the materials for a criminal investigation.
Prosecutors could appeal Judge Aileen Cannon's order, both to prevent it from serving as a basis for precedent and so the investigation can continue, but that potentially risks a long legal battle. They could acquiesce to the order in hope that a special master could swiftly review the core documents at issue.
Cannon's ruling struck some observers as a sensible way to help assure the public that the investigation was transparent and fair. “She is worried about that 40 percent of the country that thinks the Justice Department has been unleashed on the former president,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a law professor at the University of Virginia. The prospect of having someone outside government—rather than the executive branch itself—help determine what could be covered by executive privilege left some legal experts confused. Special masters are more traditionally used to protect attorney-client communications after law offices are searched. Cannon has left unanswered how a special master can decide on far more diffuse and controversial questions of executive privilege. Former Attorney General, William Barr, who served during part of the Trump administration, said he thought the ruling was flawed and urged the government to appeal it. “I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up,” Mr. Barr said on Fox News Channel, adding: “I don’t think it changes the ballgame so much as maybe we’ll have a rain delay for a couple of innings.”