A federal judge has approved former President Donald Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago last month.
The ruling, by Trump-appointed District Judge Aileen Cannon, is an important victory for the former president.
“Based on Applicant’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with subject’s arrest is unique,” Cannon wrote. “A future indictment, based on whatever level of property needs to be returned, will result in reputational damage of another certain magnitude.”
Cannon requested that a third-party attorney, outside the government, be sent to review documents obtained from Trump’s Florida home and compound. It also prevents the Justice Department from continuing to review documents seized at Mar-a-Lago “pending completion of the special master’s examination or subsequent court order.”
Both parties have until Friday to nominate a particular primary candidate and their specific mandates.
Trump’s lawyers argued that a special whole was needed because they did not trust the Justice Department to fairly identify privileged documents that should be excluded from the ongoing criminal investigation.
Federal prosecutors will likely appeal the decision.
The Justice Department says its own “screening team” has completed a review of Mar-a-Lago documents – and found a small set of confidential attorney-client files.
The judge said the special owner would be responsible for reviewing “property seized for personal items and potentially privileged documents and materials subject to the request of the attorney-client and/or operating privileges.”
However, the classification review and intelligence assessment conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will be allowed to continue.
The FBI obtained medical and tax information about Trump during the search, according to the judge.
Cannon also said the review group’s report describes a couple of cases in which documents were exposed to multiple teams before being passed on.
“Only these examples, even if completely unintentional, raise questions about the adequacy of the filter,” she writes.
Cannon set Friday’s deadline for Trump attorneys and Justice Department prosecutors to negotiate the master’s “duty and limitations” Special Doctor and submit a list of potential candidates for the position.
She also wants both sides to come up with a schedule for the special master’s exam and how the person will be compensated for their work.
William Barr, on Fox, says there is no good reason for documents to be classified at Mar-a-Lago.
If the two parties do not agree on the parameters of the upcoming task force captain, they must explain their differences in a court application.
This story is breaking and will be updated. (H/T CNN)