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Judge Orders Special Master Review of Documents Seized from Mar-a-Lago

Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a U.S. District judge from the Southern District of Florida, delivered some bad news to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, by ordering that a special master be appointed to review the documents seized from the FBI during last month’s raid of Mar-a-Lago. This means that the DOJ must stop their own review. The DOJ revealed last week that they already reviewed documents which would be subject to such oversight by any special master. 

The special master is to “review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.” 

“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,” the order stated. “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.”

As Matt highlighted last week, the DOJ had tried to argue against such a request, as a matter of national security. In response, Trump’s attorneys, as Sarah covered, called the DOJ’s request an “extraordinary document” and argued the government “twists the framework of responding to a motion for a Special Master into an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial consideration, presently or in the future, of any aspect of its unprecedented behavior in this investigation.”

The reveal of records seized by the FBI drew much attention and heavy criticism, as Larry O’Connor and Mike Davis, a former law clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch, highlighted.

Fox News was among the first outlets to report on Judge Cannon’s order. The Hill included a copy of the order in its coverage. 

Judge Cannon was nominated by then President Donald Trump in May 2020 and confirmed by the Senate in November 2020. She’s asked the DOJ and attorneys for Trump to submit a joint filing by Friday with a list of proposed candidates to serve as the special master. 

Judge Cannon” has been trending on Twitter as a result of Monday’s order. 

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