It is the latest legal twist in the Justice Department’s landmark criminal investigation into possible mishandling of Trump’s documents as his term ends in January 2021. The FBI last month executed a search warrant at the former president’s Florida home and resort, confiscating more than 11,000 documents. 100 classified government records.
US District Judge Eileen Cannon earlier this week granted the request of Trump’s special master — a third-party attorney outside the government — and allowed criminal investigators at the Justice Department to dispose of the seized material as part of its ongoing investigation. Ordered to stop using. Special Master completed his review.
Resolving the differences will depend on the cannon.
The Justice Department wants the special master to proceed relatively quickly, with its review completed in five weeks by October 17. Trump proposed 90 days.
The Justice Department also argued that the Special Master should not touch any documents containing classification markings and that the review should not include any executive privilege considerations. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers want the special master to review “all seized material,” including classified records.
Whoever is appointed to play the role will immediately be taken to the center of the most consequential criminal investigation in modern American history.
Justice Department nominees: Griffith and Jones
The Justice Department named two retired federal judges — Thomas Griffith and Barbara Jones — to serve as special masters.
Griffith, a Bush appointee, served on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals from 2005 to 2020. In one of his last major decisions before retiring, he wrote a majority opinion dismissing House Democrats’ attempt to subdue Trump’s former White House counsel Don McGahn. (The decision was later overturned.)
Griffith later co-authored a report with other prominent conservative lawyers and officials outlining Trump’s lies about massive fraud in the 2020 election. And he publicly supported President Joe Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court.
Jones, a Bill Clinton appointee to the federal bench, is a former federal prosecutor and a retired judge for the Southern District of New York from 1995 to 2012.
He was tapped to serve as a special master investigating material confiscated during an FBI raid on Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in April 2021. She was also a special master in the Michael Cohen case, making sure investigators didn’t clear any documents. who had attorney-client privileges. Both Giuliani and Cohen were Trump’s lawyers while they were investigated by the Justice Department.
Trump Nominees: Huck Jr. and Dearie
Trump’s legal team named attorney Paul Huck Jr. and Judge Raymond Deary to serve as special master.
Huck, who has his own law firm, has been a partner in the Jones Day law firm, which represented the Trump campaign in 2016 and was a contributor to the conservative legal organization Federalist Society.
He previously served as deputy attorney general for Florida and as general counsel to former Florida governor Charlie Crist—who was a Republican at the time and is now a Democratic nominee for governor in Florida. Trump’s current attorney, Chris Casey, also worked for Krist and overlaps with Huck. They worked together in the Florida Attorney General’s office.
Huck’s wife, Barbara Lago, was on Trump’s short list as a Supreme Court nominee following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020.
Dearie has served as a federal judge in New York since 1986, when he was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan. He retired in 2011 and is now a senior judge on the circuit.
Dearie also served a seven-year term on the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA Court. He was one of the judges who approved the FBI and DOJ request to survey Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, as part of a federal investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. .
Details are up to the judge
Trump-appointed Judge Cannon, who is presiding over the case, has said she will “expeditiously” decide the “exact details and mechanics” of the special master process after both sides submit their proposals. It is not clear whether she will hear the matter or she will only issue a written order with her decision.
The two sides haven’t agreed much throughout the trial, and it’s no surprise that their proposals submitted on Friday have vastly different perspectives on how the Special Master should conduct his review.
For example, the two sides also disagree on who should pay for a particular master. Trump’s lawyers proposed that the expenses incurred by the special master should be “divided equally” between him and the US government. The Justice Department told the judge that they think Trump should pay for the whole thing, because he is the one who is “requesting the special master.”
Separate appeal and Cannon request to continue investigation
The Justice Department also states that it should be allowed to continue access to classified documents as the intelligence community reviews the material for national security reasons, arguing that intelligence review cannot be easily separated from criminal investigations. Is. Top federal prosecutors have said the intelligence review has been temporarily halted because of the Cannon decision that undermined national security.
The unprecedented search came after a separate federal judge authorizing a warrant found that there was a “probable cause” of several crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act and potential obstruction of justice. FBI agents recovered more than 100 classified documents during the search, including 18 marked “top secret,” the highest level of classification.
The investigation revolves around a possible misuse of confidential government documents. The US government has recovered at least 325 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year, through Trump’s voluntarily trading of documents in January, a grand jury subpoena in June and an FBI search last month.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
This story has been updated with additional details.