Special Master Appointed to Oversee Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents

The special master will be Chief Justice Raymond Dearie, who Trump floated as a possible candidate for the special master role to seek review in the court. The Justice Department also approved Dearie’s nomination.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon also rejected a Justice Department request to reopen a criminal investigation into classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago last month. The rejection sets the stage for the department’s conflict with Trump over its quest to quickly move to an appeals court and the US Supreme Court.

Cannon gave the special master until Nov. 30 to complete his review of the potentially privileged documents. The calendar review ends after the midterm elections for Congress; essentially, it guarantees that the Mar-a-Lago investigation will proceed slowly over the next two months, unless the highest courts step in.

Dearie is on the district court for the Eastern District of Brooklyn, where he has taken senior status, meaning his workload has been significantly lightened as he nears the end of his time at the federal bench.

Appointed a judge by Ronald Reagan in 1986, he served for a time as chief judge of the Brooklyn seat of the court. He also served a seven-year term, ending in 2019, on the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

As a FISA judge, Dearie was one of the judges approved by the Justice Department for surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page as part of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The department’s pursuit of FISA warrants for Page was riddled with errors and indolence, a review by the DOJ inspector general later found. The IG’s review pointed to omissions and errors in the FBI’s court filings supporting the FISA applications, including those sent to Dearie.

Trump has objected to how the FISA warrants against Page were obtained, highlighting Dearie’s recommendation to review the Mar-a-Lago search. Legal observers across the ideological spectrum, including vocal Trump critics, supported the option.

More than 100 documents marked as classified have been seized

Trump filed for the special warrant two weeks after the Justice Department raided his Florida residence and resort. Prosecutors are investigating at least three potential crimes: violations of the Espionage Act, illegal manipulation of government records and obstruction of justice.

During the search, according to court filings, investigators seized more than 100 documents marked as classified, and Trump’s representatives were subpoenaed in May to demand the government return all of those documents. When the FBI traveled to Mar-a-Lago in June to collect the documents, one of its lawyers signed a certificate confirming that the subpoena had been served.

Trump, in filings in the special capital case, argued that his constitutional rights were violated by the Aug. 8 search, although Cannon himself previously said he disagreed that the judicially-authorized search was “grossly negligent.” Rights of the former president.

In his Sept. 5 order, which initially granted Trump’s request for a special review, Cannon ruled that it was necessary to bolster public confidence in the search and that Trump, as a former president, faced greater risks of reputational damage if the impeachment was unfairly brought forward. against him
Trump said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Thursday that he had declassified the government records that were brought to Mar-a-Lago, but that is not an argument he has made under any legal framework.

This story has been updated with additional details.