A federal Judge has granted Donald Trump’s request for a “special master” to review the documents seized during the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence.
Under the Monday ruling from Judge Aileen Cannon, the “special master” will assess which documents may be protected under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Specifically, Cannon wrote, the ruling “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.”
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The Department of Justice has recovered hundreds of classified documents from President Trump’s Palm Beach residence, including dozens marked “top secret.” Trump has argued that he issues declassifications for the documents, and that in any case the Presidential Records Act grants him the right to retain documents from his presidency while precluding others from viewing them. Experts disagree.
In the ruling, Cannon — a Trump appointee — said the special master process will not “impede the classification review and/or intelligence assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”
But Monday’s ruling does in part grant the late request from Trump’s lawyers to stop the DOJ from reviewing documents collected in the department’s investigation of Trump’s retaining and handling of classified materials.
In the ruling Cannon, cited concerns over the potential damage to Trump should materials in the custody of the DOJ be leaked to the public. “In addition to being deprived of potentially significant personal documents, which alone creates a real harm,” wrote Cannon, “Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public.”
While ruling may temporarily delay proceedings, the DOJ has already had a chance to conduct their own review of materials seized in the raid, and will have a chance to influence the selection of the “special master.” Judge Cannon has ordered both camps to submit their proposed candidates by September 9th.
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