Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen M. Cannon on Monday granted a ‘special master’ to review the various “classified” documents seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) last month in the ongoing investigation of former President Donald Trump.
The order is a legal win for the former president as the special master, which serves as an independent arbiter and will be a third-party attorney, is assigned to review all materials seized thus barring the FBI from reviewing the materials with “investigative purpose” until the arbiter concludes their review, per the New York Times.
The judge ordered the investigation be paused and “A special master shall be appointed to review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.”
“As a function of Plaintiff’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own,” Cannon wrote in her order. “A future indictment, based to any degree on property that ought to be returned, would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude.”
The Trump-appointed judge noted that it was necessary to appoint a special master “to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity.”
The judge also stated that an arbiter is necessary for the investigation to ensure that legal safeguards were maintained: “The Court is mindful that restraints on criminal prosecutions are disfavored but finds that these unprecedented circumstances call for a brief pause to allow for neutral, third-party review to ensure a just process with adequate safeguards.”
During the hearing to consider a special master, the Justice Department argued that such an appointment to conduct an executive privilege review would be unprecedented and not rooted in the law with one DOJ lawyer stating, “There is no role for a special master to play in executive privilege.”
In response to this, Judge Cannon disagreed and ruled that the department “arguably overstates the law” and, “Even if any assertion of executive privilege by plaintiff ultimately fails in this context, that possibility, even if likely, does not negate a former president’s ability to raise the privilege as an initial matter.”
“As a function of Plaintiff’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own,” she wrote in regards to the reputational consequences for President Trump, adding, “A future indictment, based to any degree on property that ought to be returned, would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude.”
Following the decision, the former president took to Truth Social to blast the DOJ and FBI for their impartiality: “Remember, it takes courage and “guts” to fight a totally corrupt Department of “Justice” and the FBI.”
“They are being pushed to do the wrong things by many sinister and evil outside sources,” Trump continued, adding, “Until impartiality, wisdom, fairness, and courage are shown by them, our Country can never come back or recover—it will be reduced to being a Third World Nation!”
The appointment of a special master is a step in the right direction in ensuring that the DOJ is not conducting a partisan investigation and it will allow President Trump some breathing room as he pursues his legal strategy.
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