US: A federal court agreed to appoint a special master to evaluate evidence seized by the FBI during its unusual search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, potentially delaying the Justice Department’s continuing criminal probe.
In her judgment, US District Judge Aileen Cannon of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida stated that the court authorized the appointment to study personal objects, papers, and evidence subject to claims of attorney-client privilege. Trump appointed Cannon in 2020, just months before leaving office.
Cannon’s order allows US intelligence personnel to conduct a national security damage assessment in the investigation. Trump has accused the Justice Department of conducting a politicized witch hunt against him, and his lawyers have argued that appointing an independent third party to analyze the papers would be a critical check on the agency.
Trump is being investigated for removing highly sensitive federal data from the White House after he left in January 2021 and storing them in his residence at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
The Justice Department has also stated that it is looking into possible obstruction after the FBI discovered evidence that Trump’s staff may have purposefully concealed sensitive documents when agents attempted to recover them in June.
At the same meeting on June 3, Trump’s representatives falsely certified that they had performed a diligent search & returned all classified materials to the government — a claim that was later debunked after the FBI recovered approximately 33 boxes containing more than 11,000 government records and photos, as well as more than 100 classified records.
Trump’s legal team delayed two weeks after the FBI’s Aug. 8 search before requesting that the court appoint a special master — an independent third party who also is assigned in sensitive cases to analyze records that may be protected by the attorney-client privilege.