DOJ, Trump lawyers submit special master choices, disagree on scope of seized Mar-a-Lago docs review

Just over a month after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and lawyers for former President Donald Trump have each submitted two candidates to serve as an independent special master and review the seized documents, but the parties can not agree on the duties that would fall on the appointed person.

For a position that will certainly come with scores of scrutiny regardless of whom is eventually named, the DOJ has nominated Barbara S. Jones, who was appointed as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York by former President Bill Clinton, and Thomas B. Griffith, who served as Senate Legal Counsel from 1995-1999.

Jones “served as a special master in 2018 to review documents from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, to examine if any were privileged,” The Hill reported.

Nominated by Team Trump are retired U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York Raymond J. Dearie and Paul Huck Jr., a former Florida deputy attorney general and former general counsel to then-Governor Charlie Crist, who was, at the time, passing through his Republican phase.

Dearie “served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” according to the joint filing from Trump’s attorneys and the DOJ. The Court “entertains applications made by the United States Government for approval of electronic surveillance, physical search, and certain other forms of investigative actions for foreign intelligence purposes,” according to its website.

At issue now is what exactly the special master will be tasked with doing once he or she is appointed.

Trump’s attorneys argue that “the Special Master should review all Seized Materials, including documents with classification markings,” the filing reads. “Plaintiff also contends that the Special
Master should examine the documents to evaluate potential Executive Privilege claims.”

“The Plaintiff does not believe that the Special Master should, or needs to, consult with the National Archives and Records Administration (‘NARA’),” the document continues. “To the extent that the Special Master determines such a need, the Plaintiff would suggest that the parties be heard by the Special Master, and possibly this Court, before that step is undertaken.”

In contrast, the “Government’s position is that the Special Master should not review documents with classification markings; should not adjudicate claims of Executive Privilege (but should
submit to NARA any documents over which such claims are made); and should consult with NARA on the determination of Presidential records.”

As American Wire reported, after Trump’s team scored a win in convincing Judge Aileen Cannon to rule in favor of appointing a special master, the DOJ appealed the decision on Thursday, sparking renewed concerns from the former President that the feds planted “fake evidence” at Mar-a-Lago.

“So now the FBI & Biden Department of ‘Justice’ leakers are going to spend Millions of Dollars, & vast amounts of Time & Energy, to appeal the Order on the ‘Raid of Mar-a-Lago Document Hoax,’ by a brilliant and courageous Judge whose words of wisdom rang true throughout our Nation, instead of fighting the record setting corruption and crime that is taking place right before their very eyes,” Trump wrote on Truth Social following the appeal.

“They SPIED on my Campaign, lied to FISA COURT, told Facebook ‘quiet,’ preside over worst CRIME WAVE ever!! … They leak, lie, plant fake evidence, allow the spying on my campaign, deceive the FISA Court, RAID and Break-Into my home, lose documents, and then they ask me, as the 45th President of the United States, to trust them,” he raged. “Look at the I.G. Reports on Comey, McCabe, and others. Things are safer in the middle of Central Park!”

Both the DOJ and Trump’s attorneys will submit to Judge Cannon their thoughts on their opponent’s pick on Monday. Should they fail to reach a consensus, a special master can be appointed by the judge.


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Melissa Fine


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