WASHINGTON—The Justice Department and former President Donald Trump’s legal team are to stake out positions Friday on the precise role to be played by an independent arbiter who will review documents seized during an FBI search of Trump’s Florida home.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had given both sides until Friday to submit potential candidates for the role of a “special master,” as well as proposals for the scope of the person’s duties and the schedule for his or her work.
Over the objections of the Justice Department, Cannon on Monday granted the Trump team’s request for the special master and directed the department to temporarily halt its review of records for investigative purposes.
She said the person would be responsible for sifting through the records recovered during the Aug. 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago and filter out from the criminal investigation any documents potentially covered by claims of attorney-client or executive privilege.
President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 18, 2018. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
Roughly 11,000 documents were seized during the raid. That’s on top of classified documents contained in 15 boxes retrieved in January by the National Archives and Records Administration, and additional records the department took back during a June visit to Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department had objected to the Trump team’s request for a special master, saying it had already done its own review and identified a limited subset of records that possibly involve attorney-client privilege. It said that executive privilege does not apply in this investigation because Trump, no longer president, had no right to claim the documents as his.
The department on Thursday filed a notice of appeal indicating it would contest the judge’s order to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Officials asked the judge to lift her hold on their investigative work pending their appeal, as well as her requirement that the department share with a special master the classified records that were recovered.