‘Plaintiff shall bear 100% of the cost’: Judge denies Trump’s request for shared expense of special master

Former President Donald Trump got some good news and bad news this week.

On the positive side, Judge Aileen M. Cannon finally appointed a special master to handle his case and said a special master has already scheduled an initial hearing for next Tuesday, the 20th of September.

But on the negative side, Cannon also ruled that Trump must pay 100 percent of the costs accrued from the special master’s work.

“Plaintiff shall bear 100% of the professional fees and expenses of the Special Master and any professionals, support staff, and expert consultants engaged at the Special Master’s request,” Cannon ruled Thursday.

(Source: DocumentCloud)

According to a filing from the United States Court of Federal Claims (USCFC), a special master earns between $153 to $440 per hour, depending on their level of expertise.

The man chosen to be special master, Raymond Dearie, is a semiretired federal judge with decades of legal experience, so it’s assumed he’d receive at least $440 per hour.

As part of his job, he must review 10,000+ documents by Nov. 30th. Assuming he works 8 hours for 60 days, that’d come out to over $200,000.

On the really, really negative side, on Friday the Department of Justice officially asked the 11th Circuit to stay Judge Cannon’s ruling preventing investigators from reviewing the documents themselves until the special master finishes his job.

“In a filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta Friday night, prosecutors said the government is facing irreparable harm as a result of U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling putting the potentially classified records off-limits to the investigative team until an outside expert conducts a review of them and considers Trump’s objections to their seizure,” according to Politico.

“The filing was an unsparing rejection of Cannon’s handling of the entire matter, saying it has jeopardized national security, is based on flimsy or baseless interpretations of executive privilege and could enable further obstruction of efforts to recover additional missing documents.”

Trump has sought — successfully too thus far, thanks to Cannon — to prevent investigators from reviewing the documents until the special master has eliminated from the collection any documents protected by either executive privilege or client-attorney privilege. The goal has been to both protect himself and also delay the DOJ’s investigation.

But were the 11th Circuit to rule against Trump, he’d be out of luck, and DOJ investigators would have immediate access to all the documents that FBI agents had retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago property last month.

However, the good news here is that the court is stocked with Trump’s judicial picks.

“In his push to remake the judiciary with conservatives, President Donald Trump ‘flipped’ the Eleventh Circuit last year, giving Republican-appointed judges a majority over their colleagues appointed by Democrats. Brasher’s nomination increases their sway,” Bloomberg reported in early 2020 after the Senate confirmed another conservative, Andrew Brasher, to the court.

Speaking of good news, special master Dearie has a track record of making fair and impartial decisions.

“[I]f the Special Master process does move forward, whenever the recommendations are forwarded to the presiding judge by Judge Dearie, it’ll be the right recommendation. If he rules against Trump. Or in favor of Trump. Or a little of both. It won’t be political,” one of his former clerks noted in a Twitter thread published Friday.

And so overall, it appears the good news outweighs the bad news, especially when you consider that Trump can easily afford to shell out a couple hundred thousand dollars for the work of the special master.


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Vivek Saxena


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