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Donald Trump may get a 'special master' review of documents seized by FBI

Federal agents are investigating missing White House records left with 20 boxes of documents, including 11 sets of classified material

Donald Trump | FBI | White House

Erik Larson | Bloomberg 

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

A federal judge said she will likely grant Donald Trump’s request for a so-called special master to review documents seized by the from the former president’s home and seek out any privileged material.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, issued a preliminary order on Saturday and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Sept. 1 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Cannon said the preliminary order is warranted by “the exceptional circumstances presented.”

“The court hereby provides notice of its preliminary intent to appoint a special master in this case,” Cannon said. The two-page order “should not be construed as a final determination,” she added.

The preliminary ruling comes less than 24 hours after a federal magistrate judge in the same court unsealed a redacted version of the affidavit that was used to get the search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Federal agents investigating missing records left with 20 boxes of documents, including 11 sets of classified material.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Trump posted a message on his Truth Social platform that noted the judge’s order.

Cannon ordered the government to file a public response to Trump’s request by Aug. 30. She also directed the DOJ to file under seal a more detailed list of property seized from Trump’s home and explain the status of the government’s own review of the material. The sealed document must describe “any filter review conducted by the privilege review team and any dissemination of materials beyond the privilege review team,” she said.

Trump’s lawyer and the DOJ were both directed to include in their filings “their respective and particularized positions on the duties and responsibilities of a prospective special master,” according to the order.

Trump’s lawsuit, filed against the US government on Aug. 22, is seeking to halt the review of the documents until a neutral third party could review them.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and offered a variety of explanations for the presence of classified documents at his home, including that he had a “standing order” to declassify records he took and that FBI agents may have planted evidence during the search.

The case is Trump v. of America, 9:22-cv-81294, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach).

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First Published: Sun, August 28 2022. 06:45 IST