Florida Judge Opts to Move Slowly on Trump Special Master Request
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by former President Donald Trump in 2020 said Thursday she would like to take more time to consider his request to appoint a special master to review documents seized from his Florida home by the FBI.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision came during a hearing Thursday over whether to appoint an independent third party to review whether issues related to executive and lawyer-client privilege might put some of what was gathered out of bounds to investigators.
After hearing arguments from both Trump’s attorneys and the Department of Justice, she said she would issue a written order on Trump’s request, but did not say when it might be coming.
In the meantime, and hearing no objection from either side, Cannon said she will release a more detailed list of the items the FBI took after its search last month of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
During the hearing, Trump attorney Chris Kise, a former Florida solicitor general who was added to the former president’s legal team this week, argued the appointment of a special master would help restore what he described as the public’s loss of confidence in the investigation.
“This is an unprecedented situation,” he said.
“We need, respectfully, to lower the temperature on both sides,” he added. “We need to take a deep breath.”
But Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s lead attorney on the case, said Trump wasn’t entitled to the appointment of a special master because the classified and presidential records seized didn’t belong to him, but rather were the property of the United States government.
In cases where a special master is appointed, it tends to involve materials taken during, say, a search of an attorney’s office, in which some of the documents are alleged to involve extraneous matters related to third parties.
Bratt sought to keep Cannon focused on one issue and one issue alone.
“He is no longer the president,” he told the judge at one point. “And because he is no longer the president, he had no right to take those documents.”