Mar-a-lago raid special master makes first moves

Only a day into his new job, the special master assigned to the Mar-a-Lago case has already taken his first concrete action.

On Friday, special master Raymond Dearie scheduled a “preliminary conference” for Sept. 20th and ordered both former President Donald Trump’s attorneys and Department of Justice prosecutors to submit any relevant “agenda items.”

“Counsel are directed to appear before the undersigned in Courtroom lOA-S of the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 2:00 PM for a preliminary conference in the above-captioned matter,” the order reads.

“Counsel are invited to submit proposed agenda items for discussion by docketed letter to be filed before the close of business on Monday, September 19, 2022,” it continues.

Dearie’s order came a day after Judge Aileen M. Cannon, with the approval of both Trump’s attorneys and federal prosecutors, named him to serve as special master so that he may review all the documents that were retrieved last month from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.

“Judge Cannon appointed a special master suggested by the Trump legal team and agreed upon by the government: Raymond J. Dearie, a semiretired judge from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York,” The New York Times reported Thursday.

“Judge Dearie will now have the authority to sift through more than 11,000 records the F.B.I. carted away from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8. The move was a blow to the Justice Department, almost certain to significantly delay its investigation into whether the former president unlawfully retained national defense records or obstructed repeated attempts by federal officials to retrieve them.”

But who exactly is this guy? According to The Washington Post, he’s a 78-year-old “former chief federal judge in New York” who was nominated to his post by former President Ronald Reagan.

“Fellow lawyers and colleagues describe him as an exemplary jurist who is well suited to the job of special master, having previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees sensitive national security cases,” the Post notes.

Indeed, civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger, who reportedly once clerked for Dearie, has said the same:

Hechinger’s analysis appears to bode well for Trump, who’s currently under investigation for the alleged mishandling of classified documents and “wants the special master to search through all the seized documents — including the classified ones — to see if any are protected by attorney-client or executive privileges and should not be used in the investigation,” according to the Post.

Another one of Dearie’s clerks, Steve Gold, also had nothing but good things to say about him.

“I do not think he will be daunted by the case. He has handled major cases and intense media interest,” he said to the BBC.

He’s also “shown a willingness to protect government secrets – something that appears relevant in the Mar-a-Lago case,” according to the British outlet.

“In one trial of an al-Qaeda suspect, he allowed British MI5 officers to protect their identities by wearing wigs, glasses and makeup. Judge Dearie then instructed the courtroom artists to only draw them with ‘blank faces’ and ‘generic hair,'” the BBC notes.

“[He was] always mindful of the fact that his decisions had real consequences for real people,” according to Gold.

There is one slight hiccup, though. Seven years ago, Dearie showed mercy to three convicted terrorists.

“In 2015, Dearie took the unusual step of reducing the prison sentences of three convicted Canadian terrorists, saying he had been ‘haunted’ by the case and his growing sense that their sentences were unfair,” the Post notes.

“Under federal law, Dearie had been required to sentence the men to 25-year terms for conspiring to acquire missiles on behalf of the Tamil Tigers, a rebel group fighting the government of Sri Lanka. He later cut those sentences to 15 years.”

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Vivek Saxena

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