A federal judge on Monday agreed to former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review documents that the FBI seized during its raid on his Florida home early last month.
The judge also halted the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) own investigation of the materials while they are being reviewed by the special master.
Judge Aileen M. Cannon ordered that the independent special master “review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.”
The order states that claims of attorney-client privilege and/or executive privilege be evaluated. It was reported last month that some of the boxes taken in the FBI raid contained documents that fall under attorney-client privilege.
The inventory will also be checked for any personal items seized.
BREAKING: A federal judge has granted a request by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of his Florida home last month. https://t.co/3U3l5Cpnnn
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 5, 2022
While the DOJ’s investigation into the items is suspended during the special master’s review, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may continue its “classification review and/or intelligence assessment.”
Trump’s legal team filed the motion for an independent special master about two weeks after the unprecedented raid on his home. In the filing they characterized the act as political rather than purely investigative.
They argued that law enforcement cannot be used in this country as a political weapon, that it exists as “a shield to protect Americans.”
Judge Cannon gave both sides until Friday to submit candidates to be considered for special master. Her move granting the request was not unexpected as she had earlier indicated her willingness to do so.
Many in the media said the request by Trump’s attorneys came too late, as the materials had been in the DOJ’s possession for weeks. Cannon did not agree, though she said that issues of executive privilege or the Presidential Records Act must be decided in Washington.
In her order, Cannon wrote that the court was aware of the special need to ensure the appearance of fairness and integrity due to “extraordinary circumstances.” Those circumstances, of course, involve the government raiding the home of the president’s chief political rival.