U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon decided Monday to appoint a “special master” to review the documents taken from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home in the FBI’s raid last month and determine if they were protected by legal privilege.
The Justice Department (DOJ) had reviewed materials seized in the raid and found some of them might be legally privileged. Trump’s attorneys asked Cannon for a “special master,” or third-party attorney, to review the documents contending it was not certain that the department identified all the possibly privileged documents.
Cannon granted Trump’s request, and also temporarily blocked the DOJ from further review of the seized documents.
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“The Court hereby authorizes the appointment of a special master to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney/client and/or executive privilege,” Cannon wrote. “Furthermore, in natural conjunction with that appointment, and consistent with the value and sequence of special master procedures, the Court also temporarily enjoins the Government from reviewing and using the seized materials for investigative purposes pending completion of the special master’s review or further Court order.”
Cannon said the court was “unsure” of the DOJ’s claim that its review team had picked out any potentially privileged materials.
Trump’s legal team had argued that the DOJ was politically motivated and would “leak” documents covered by attorney-client privilege.
“Left unchecked, the DOJ will impugn, leak, and publicize selective aspects of their investigation with no recourse for [Trump] but to somehow trust the self-restraint of currently unchecked investigators,” his attorneys wrote.
However, the DOJ had attempted to block the appointment of a special master, citing national security concerns.
“This Order shall not impede the classification review and/or intelligence assessment” to be performed by the DOJ, Cannon wrote.
Cannon unsealed the most detailed list of property seized in the raid yet on Friday, ABC News reported.