Trump-chosen 'special master' to serve in ex-president's legal debacle
Raymond Dearie, 78, will take part in the legal back-and-forth between Trump and the Department of Justice over the retrieved classified records found at the Mar-A-Lago resort.
Senior US district judge, Raymond Dearie, who is experienced in handling US national security matters was named by US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon as an independent arbiter to vet records that have been seized by the FBI upon raiding former US President Donald Trump's Florida mansion.
Cannon appointed Dearie as special master Thursday in the legal back-and-forth between Trump and the Department of Justice over the classified records found at the Mar-A-Lago resort. Dearie was one of two candidates who were suggested by Trump, with the DoJ enabling the appointment.
The judge, furthermore, also rejected the department's demand that prosecutors be allowed to review the documents while the legal war is still in effect, rejecting also their argument that the probe into the documents is urgent due to their sensitive nature.
“The court does not find it appropriate to accept the government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion,” Cannon said.
Dearie's task is to decide whether the seized documents are privileged, either due to attorney-client confidentiality or through executive privilege, and thus the records should be off limits to federal investigators, and he has till November 30, 2022, to conclude the review.
Earlier this September, Cannon fulfilled Trump's request to appoint a "special master" to independently review material that was seized in the FBI raid on his house in Florida, constituting a bite-back against prosecutors.
Government attorneys opposed Trump's request, saying that the appointment of a special master to screen for privileged material could harm national security, and was also unnecessary given that the investigation team completed a screening already.
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Cannon, in her order, wrote that "a special master shall be appointed to review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property."
The ruling made an exception for "intelligence classification and national security assessments," given that the government is temporarily blocked from looking into or using materials seized in the raid.
Trump held on to more than 11,000 unclassified government records that he claims are his to keep - but legally are owned by the National Archives.
Among the papers seized in the raid were 18 documents labeled "top secret", 53 labeled "secret" and another 31 marked "confidential". Of those, seven top secret files, 17 secret files, and three confidential files were retrieved from Trump's private office.