A federal judge has granted former President Donald Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review materials that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago last month.
The decision, from Trump-appointed District Judge Aileen Cannon, is a significant victory for the former President.
“As a function of Plaintiff’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own,” Cannon wrote. “A future indictment, based to any degree on property that ought to be returned, would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude.”
Cannon ordered that a third-party attorney, from outside the government, be brought in to review the materials that were taken from Trump’s home and resort in Florida. It also halts the Justice Department from continuing its review of the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago “pending completion of the special master’s review or further Court order.”
Trump’s lawyers argued that a special master was needed because they don’t trust the Justice Department to fairly identify privileged materials that would need to be excluded from the ongoing criminal probe.
Federal prosecutors will likely appeal this decision.
The Justice Department has said that its own “filter team” already finished its review of the Mar-a-Lago documents — and found a small set of attorney-client privileged records.
The judge said the special master will be tasked with reviewing “seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.”
The classification review and intelligence assessments being conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, however, will be allowed to continue.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
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