On Sept. 1, a federal judge declined to rule on whether or not to grant former President Donald Trump’s request to appoint an independent special master to review the documents that were seized by the FBI during the raid on his Florida home in August.
At a hearing in West Palm Beach, U.S., District Judge Aileen Cannon, a former federal prosecutor who was appointed by Trump, said she would wait to rule on the former president’s request.
Cannon also plans to wait to rule on whether to unseal more documents revealing in further detail the inventory of the seized items that the Department of Justice filed under seal with the court. It is currently unclear when Cannon will make her rulings. Government officials claim that a DOJ filter team processed the materials removed from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and have separated anything that is potentially privileged.
They also have argued against the idea of Trump using a special master in this case, saying he did not need one to protect his rights and that he lacks standing.
“As an initial matter, the former President lacks standing to seek judicial relief or oversight as to Presidential records because those records do not belong to him,” the DOJ wrote, citing the Presidential Records Act, which they said, “makes it clear that ‘the United States’ has ‘complete ownership, possession, and control’ of them.”
A special master is an independent third party sometimes appointed by a court in sensitive cases to review materials potentially covered by attorney-client privilege to ensure investigators do not improperly view them. Trump filed for a special master after disputing the classification status of many of the documents, arguing that they were, in fact, declassified.
However, Trump lawyer Lindsey Halligan said that the government failed to cite precedent for claiming Trump lacked standing and that a special master should still be appointed to make sure the situation proceeds appropriately, stated a filing lodged late Wednesday.
“Assuring access by Movant’s counsel to the seized materials, sharing an actual (detailed) inventory, making independent attorney-client privilege assessments, and making executive privilege determinations are all responsibilities that are best served by appointment of a Special Master,” Halligan said.
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