Trump team faces deadline for naming special master

Politics

(NewsNation) — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump and the U.S. Justice Department face a midnight Friday deadline to submit their list of candidates to serve as a special master to oversee the handling of documents collected by the FBI during its search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon ordered the appointment of a special master on Monday, granting a request by Trump to determine whether the documents found contain either attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

The Department of Justice appealed the judge’s decision. The ruling means the documents may not be used by the DOJ as evidence in their investigation until after the review has taken place.

Jay Bratt, the head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence wing, said in court Trump had no right to possess the documents in the first place, whether they were declassified or not, as Trump claimed they were. Bratt, citing the Presidential Records Act of 1973, argued the documents were the property of the American people.

The DOJ also said appointing a special master would slow the government’s effort to determine whether classified documents were still missing.

Cannon said in a court filing she was willing to consider limiting the special master’s role so that person would not review documents that were deemed classified.

Trump is under investigation for retaining government records, some of which were marked as highly classified, at his Palm Beach, Florida, home after leaving office in January 2021.

The investigation is focused on whether Trump improperly removed classified records from the White House and stored them at Mar-a-Lago, and whether he unlawfully tried to obstruct the investigation by concealing or removing some of the records.

Legal experts have said that finding a special master is no easy task.

The person in that role would potentially need to have a top-level security clearance, be an expert on executive privilege and be willing to take on a very public role that would thrust him or her into the political spotlight.

If Cannon agrees to exclude classified materials from the review, it could make finding a special master easier.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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