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Veteran NY Judge Named Special Master in Trump Mar-a-Lago Investigation, Deadline Set for Review to be Completed

09-16-2022
RaymondDearieSM
A page from the order by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon naming Raymond Dearie as special master to serve as an independent arbiter and to review records seized during the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

A federal judge approved former President Donald Trump's pick to independently review documents taken from his Florida home last month.

New York Judge Raymond Dearie will serve as the special master who will go through the 11,000 documents seized by the FBI during the  Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.  

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon also set Nov. 30 as the deadline for Dearie to complete his review.

The selection of Dearie, a former federal prosecutor who for years served as the chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn, came after both the Justice Department and Trump's lawyers made clear they would be satisfied with his appointment as a so-called special master.

Trump's legal team claims some of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.

Cannon also ruled against the Department of Justice's request to resume its use of around 100 classified documents in its investigation.

The Justice Department did not immediately comment on Thursday's ruling.

As CBN News reported earlier this month, Trump's attorneys asked Cannon to appoint a special master to review all of the documents. 

In granting Trump's request, the judge's order revealed that some of the documents taken by agents included hundreds of personal, medical, and tax records which played a role in the decision.  

The Justice Department argued the appointment was unnecessary, saying it had already done its own review and Trump had no right to raise executive privilege claims that ordinarily permit the president to withhold certain information from the public and Congress.

Citing "unprecedented circumstances," Cannon said its necessary to ensure the "integrity of an orderly process amidst swirling allegations of bias and media leak."  

In her ruling, the judge also said Trump faces the "stigma" of having had his home searched, and any future indictment based on the seizure of those records would cause "reputational harm." 

The Justice Department said last week that it did not believe that the special master should inspect records with classified markings or evaluate the former president's claims of privilege. Cannon rejected both positions Thursday, directing the special master to prioritize in his review the documents marked as classified, "and thereafter consider prompt adjustments to the Court's Orders as necessary."

Dearie served as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York from 1982 to 1986, at which point he was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan. He has also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes Justice Department wiretap applications in investigations involving suspected agents of a foreign power.

Dearie was chief judge of the district from 2007 to 2011, when he took senior status. 

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