Judge Sides with Trump in Battle Against Special Master

District Court Judge Aileen Cannon sided with former President Donald Trump’s legal team on Thursday in his latest skirmish with President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.

In a September 22 court filing, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master assigned to the case, ordered Trump’s legal team to confirm or deny the accuracy of the DOJ’s inventory list of items seized during the FBI’s August 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago, according to The Hill.

The order stated they must “raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory.” And Dearie demanded a response by September 30.

Trump has claimed in interviews and on social media that the FBI may have planted evidence in his residence during their day-long search, to incriminate him. He also maintains that before leaving office, he had declassified all of the documents.

In a September 28 letter to Dearie, Trump’s legal team objected to his order arguing that his “management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the district court on this issue.”

Cannon’s order said Trump’s attorneys must be allowed to review the documents before attesting to their accuracy. Considering there are over 11,000 pages of records to review, Cannon’s request is extremely reasonable.

She wrote: “There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the seized materials. … The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation.” She also extended Dearie’s deadline for the attorneys to review the documents from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16.

The Hill reported that Cannon did, however, uphold Dearie’s requirement that Trump’s lawyers must be “more specific about what types of executive privilege he wishes to assert over the documents.”

The Trump team is required to identify their specific objection to the inclusion of each document in the DOJ’s inventory, a time-intensive task. Objections would include attorney-client privilege, executive privilege, or if they consider the document or artifact to be the former president’s personal property.

Cannon’s order pushes the deadline beyond the midterms whereas Dearie had ordered it to be done “on a rolling basis,” according to the Hill.

Dearie is actually one of several nominees proposed by Trump’s attorneys for the special master position. So far, his selection seems to be a gift to the DOJ.

In other developments in the case, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed the DOJ a win. Axios reported that a three-judge panel reversed an order from Cannon that “temporarily blocked investigators from examining” the documents. In early September, Cannon asked the DOJ to stop its review of the documents seized in the raid until the special master had reviewed them.

In their appeal, the DOJ argued this “would hinder its investigation.” The appeals court agreed and granted their request.

Just the amount of disagreement between the federal judges and the special master alone in this case underscores its political nature.

 

A previous version of this article appeared in The Western Journal.

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