Federal judge sides with Trump against FBI, agrees to appoint ‘special master’ to review seized materials

In the aftermath of the unprecedented FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, it was alleged that some of the materials the FBI had seized were in excess of the scope of the search warrant that authorized the raid.

That prompted Trump and his attorneys to ask a federal court to appoint an impartial “special master” to review all of the seized materials now in the FBI’s possession, and on Monday a federal judge agreed to the request for an independent review, the Conservative Brief reported.

In addition to approving the request for an appointment of a special master, the judge also issued a temporary injunction to halt the FBI’s own ongoing review of the seized materials as part of its criminal investigation of the former president.

Special master to be appointed, FBI investigation temporarily halted

In a 24-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon wrote, “Pursuant to the Court’s equitable jurisdiction and inherent supervisory authority, and mindful of the need to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances presented, Plaintiff’s Motion is GRANTED IN PART.”

“The Court hereby authorizes the appointment of a special master to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege,” she continued.

“Furthermore, in natural conjunction with that appointment, and consistent with the value and sequence of special master procedures, the Court also temporarily enjoins the Government from reviewing and using the seized materials for investigative purposes pending completion of the special master’s review or further Court order,” the judge added.

However, while Judge Cannon essentially halted the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Trump, at least as it pertained to the seized materials, she explicitly exempted from the injunction the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its own ongoing “classification review and/or intelligence assessment” of the seized materials.

Judge Cannon went on to note in her opinion that the allegations that materials in excess of the scope of the search warrant had been improperly seized had seemingly been confirmed by the government’s own admissions and that Trump now faced a legitimate risk of his rights being irreparably harmed, which played a substantial role in her decision to authorize the appointment of a special master to take over the review of the seized materials.

Questions remain, but a delay for FBI investigation is inevitable

According to Politico, Judge Cannon set Sept. 9 as the date by which both Trump’s attorneys and the DOJ must submit a joint filing that contained a list of proposed candidates for the special master appointment as well as an agreement on what the duties and scope of that independent review would be.

The outlet further noted that there was some debate over the feasibility of the judge’s exemption for ODNI review regarding classification and intelligence, given the fact that the FBI is a part of the broader ODNI.

Meanwhile, the DOJ has not yet said whether it will appeal this ruling from Judge Cannon, an appointee of Trump who was confirmed by the Senate during the period after the 2020 election but before the former president left office.

This is all great news for Trump, as it will at the very least cause a delay to what overwhelmingly appears to be a politically motivated probe against the incumbent president’s chief political rival, and will also most likely result in the eventual return of items to Trump that had been inappropriately seized by the FBI.

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