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Justice Department agrees to back Trump-backed candidate for special master in Mar-a-Lago case

The Justice Department on Monday approved one of the candidates proposed by Donald Trump as an independent arbitrator in the investigation into top-secret documents found in Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s team submitted their candidates for the role of special master on Sept. 9, and the Justice Department responded on Monday.

They said they would accept Barbara S. Jones, Thomas B. Griffith or Raymond J. Dearie in the role.

Dearie was introduced by the Trump team.

Jones and Griffith are new names suggested by the government.

The Justice Department said all three retired judges have “significant legal experience, presiding over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privileges.”

A fourth candidate, Paul Huck, was rejected by the Justice Department, with the government saying he “doesn’t seem to have the same experience.”

They said the three chosen ones have appropriate personnel to help them with the task.

Raymond J. Dearie, the former top federal prosecutor in New York's Eastern District, was proposed by the Trump team to oversee the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation: On Monday, the Justice Department said they had approved his candidacy

Raymond J. Dearie, the former top federal prosecutor in New York’s Eastern District, was proposed by the Trump team to oversee the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation: On Monday, the Justice Department said they had approved his candidacy

Judge Barbara S. Jones Served on the Federal Bench in Manhattan

Judge Barbara S. Jones Served on the Federal Bench in Manhattan

Judge Thomas B. Griffith was a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Judge Thomas B. Griffith was a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Judge Barbara S. Jones (left) served on the Manhattan federal bench, while Thomas B. Griffith (right) served as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida

Jones served on the federal bench in Manhattan and has played the same role in previous high-profile investigations. She reviewed material seized during FBI raids on Trump’s one-time personal attorneys Michael Cohen, in an investigation related to hush money payments, and Rudy Giuliani, in an investigation into his dealings in Ukraine.

Griffith was a federal attorney at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. He was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington in 2005 by then-President George W Bush, previously representing the institutional interests of the Republican-led Senate during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.

Dearie was the former top federal prosecutor in New York’s Eastern District. He was nominated to federal court in Brooklyn by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1986. He was also a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Huck was a prominent Florida attorney who served as a general counsel to Charlie Crist when Crist was the Republican governor of Florida. He is married to Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would hear any appeal in the Trump case from Florida. He is listed on the Federalist Society’s website as an associate of the conservative legal group.

Trump’s attorneys said they believe the so-called special master should review all documents seized by the FBI during its search last month of Mar-a-Lago, including records with classification marks, and filter any documents that may be found. are protected by claims of executive privilege.

By contrast, the Justice Department said it does not believe the arbitrator should be allowed to inspect classified documents or resolve potential claims of executive privilege.

A page from the Justice Department's motion to appeal a judge's decision to appoint an independent arbitrator

A page from the Justice Department's motion to appeal a judge's decision to appoint an independent arbitrator

A page from the Justice Department’s motion to appeal a judge’s decision to appoint an independent arbitrator

District Judge Aileen Cannon had given both sides until Sept. 9 to submit potential candidates for the role of special master, as well as proposals for the person’s scope of duties and the schedule for his or her work.

The back-and-forth over the Special Master takes place during an FBI investigation into the safekeeping of hundreds of classified documents recovered in Mar-a-Lago over the past year.

While the legal wrangling is unlikely to have major long-term effects on the investigation or significantly throw it off course, it will almost certainly delay the investigation by potentially months and has already prompted the intelligence community to temporarily conduct a separate risk assessment. to interrupt.

The Justice Department proposed an October 17 deadline for the special master to complete the review process, while the Trump team said the work could take as long as three months.

Although both sides met Judge Cannon’s deadline to supply potential candidates, their files made it clear that they have fundamental disagreements over the special master’s job.

That’s not surprising, given that the Justice Department had strongly objected to the Trump team’s desire for such an arbitrator and said Thursday it would appeal the judge’s decision to dismiss the ex-president’s request. to will.

At the heart of the dispute is exactly which documents the yet-to-be-appointed special captain must assess.

About 11,000 documents — including more than 100 with secret markings, some at the highest secret level — were recovered during the FBI’s Aug. 8 search.

In granting the request for a special captain, Judge Cannon ordered the department to temporarily suspend use of the seized documents for investigation purposes.

The Justice Department had said a special captain was not needed in part because it had already completed its own review of the seized documents and found a limited subset that may have related to attorney and client privilege.

It has maintained that administrative law does not apply in this investigation because Trump, no longer president, had no right to claim the documents as his property.

While the administration does not believe that the special captain should inspect documents with classification markings, the Trump team argues that the arbitrator should have access to the full tranche of seized documents.

According to a summary of its position set out in a filing Friday night, it disputes the idea that the “separation of these documents by the Department of Justice is inviolable” or that a document with classification markings should be considered classified forever.

And, the lawyers say, if a document is a presidential document, then Trump has an “absolute right of access.”

“So President Trump (and/or his agent) cannot be denied access to those documents, which in this case give the special captain legal permission to review first-hand,” the filing said.

Pages of warrant granting a request from former President Donald Trump's legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of his estate in Mar-a- Lago

Pages of warrant granting a request from former President Donald Trump's legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of his estate in Mar-a- Lago

Pages of warrant granting a request from former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of his estate in Mar-a- Lago

Executive privilege generally refers to a president’s authority to shield information from the courts and the public to ensure the confidentiality of presidential decision-making, although there are limits.

A separate dispute concerns the special fee and the costs of the master. The Trump team has proposed dividing the costs equally with the Justice Department. The administration says the Trump team must bear the costs.

The department has been investigating the unlawful holding of top-secret data in Mar-a-Lago after Mr. Trump left the White House, as well as whether anyone tried to obstruct that investigation.

It is not clear whether Mr Trump or anyone else will be charged.

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