Judge hears arguments on Trump’s special master request


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (NewsNation) — A federal judge on Thursday heard arguments from both sides regarding former President Donald Trump’s request that a special master oversee the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) review of evidence gathered from his Florida estate.

District Court Judge Aileen Cannon in the Southern District of Florida had previously signaled “preliminary intent” to do so.

The DOJ argued on Thursday there is no need to appoint a special master and that it would only delay the criminal investigation. Lawyers for the former president said a special master would give the public “more confidence” in the process. Trump’s lawyers also compared the situation to an “overdue library book.”

The DOJ has asserted that classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago as part of an effort to obstruct their investigation.

A special master is a third party, typically an attorney, appointed by the court to oversee parts of cases where there is sensitive material.

If appointed in Trump’s case, the special master would oversee the U.S. Department of Justice’s review of the evidence gathered from his Florida estate and filter out privileged material that may have been seized in the search.

The new court filing comes three weeks after the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

On Tuesday night, the DOJ provided a 36-page court filing, detailing efforts to hide sensitive documents that belong to the U.S. It included a photograph of some of the material found, including cover pages of paperclip-bound documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago.

This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and redacted in part by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The Justice Department says it has uncovered efforts to obstruct its investigation into the discovery of classified records at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate. (Department of Justice via AP)

In Wednesday’s response, Trump’s legal team downplayed the DOJ’s discovery of the classified documents, saying, “This ‘discovery’ was to be fully anticipated given the very nature of Presidential records. Simply put, the notion that Presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm.”

Trump fired back on his social media platform, Truth Social, Wednesday in a series of posts.

“Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see,” Trump responded. “Thought they wanted them kept Secret?”  Lucky I Declassified!,” he wrote in one of the posts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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