- Judge Aileen Cannon undermined the special master she appointed in a new ruling on the Trump documents.
- Cannon has extended the deadline for the special main review of documents from November 30 to December 16.
- She also exempted Trump’s attorneys from having to submit an affidavit indicating whether they disputed the FBI’s list of documents.
A federal judge on Thursday spared former President Donald Trump and his lawyers from having to submit an affidavit stating whether they believed the FBI had misrepresented the items seized from his South Florida home. .
Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision overturned an earlier decision by the foreign arbitrator – known as a “special master” – whom she herself had appointed to review the more than 11,000 documents recovered from Mar-Lago during of an Aug. 8 search of Trump’s residence and private club at West Palm Beach. That special master, Senior Judge Raymond Dearie, had ordered Trump’s lawyers to respond by Oct. 7 if they challenged the completeness and accuracy of the inventory of FBI records uncovered during the search.
In a six-page decision, Cannon said his order appointing Dearie ‘did not contemplate this obligation’ on lawyers for Trump and the former president, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the FBI hid some of the documents. highly sensitive seized at Mar-a. -The girlfriend.
The decision made clear the power dynamics at play in the high-stakes dispute between Trump and the Justice Department over records seized in the FBI’s unprecedented raid on the home of a former president. While Dearie is closest to the review, Cannon’s decision marked a clear exercise of force on the proceedings.
“Judge Cannon reminds Judge Dearie and all of us that she is still in charge here,” said University of Michigan law professor Barb McQuade, who served as the lead federal prosecutor in Detroit under the administration. Barack Obama.
“It essentially reverses Judge Dearie’s order requiring Trump to put up or shut up on the ‘planted’ evidence,” McQuade told Insider. “Judge Cannon’s order allows Trump to preserve that defense without any supporting facts, at least for now.”
Dearie, who was appointed to screen records potentially covered by attorney-client or executive privilege, said Trump attorneys could not suggest in court documents that the inventory of seized items was inaccurate without providing evidence to support for this assertion. In ordering the affidavit, Dearie wrote, “This submission will be Trump’s last opportunity to raise any factual disputes as to the completeness and accuracy of the detailed property inventory.”
Trump filed a lawsuit Aug. 22 demanding that Cannon appoint a special master to review records seized from Mar-a-Lago. While presiding over the case, Cannon, a confirmed Trump appointee in 2020, criticized decisions that legal experts viewed as showing unusual solicitude for the former president.
Cannon initially included more than 100 documents marked as classified in the special lead examination, blocking the Justice Department from accessing them as part of its criminal investigation into the handling of government records found at Mar-a-Lago. But the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed that key part of its ruling, with a three-judge panel embracing Justice Department arguments that any further delay in reviewing the records would undermine the national security and would cause “irreparable harm” to the government. and public.
In addition to initiating Dearie’s request for an affidavit, Cannon on Thursday extended the end date for the special main exam from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16.
Dearie had suggested that he could work a more accelerated schedule. But Trump’s attorneys pushed back on that pace, arguing it was too fast and they couldn’t find outside vendors to help with the review who were willing to work on that timeline.
“This modest expansion is necessary to allow sufficient time for the Special Master’s review and recommendations given the circumstances as they have evolved since the appointing order was entered,” Cannon wrote.
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